March 29, 2023

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Liberalization of transport rights and infrastructure modernization should address these challenges

Over the decades, African aviation has faced many challenges. Among these challenges, we note poor service, safety and security levels below the global average, poor infrastructure that does not conform to ICAO standards, and a lack of qualified personnel. details.

Today, despite its large population, the continent’s air traffic accounts for only 2-3% of global air traffic. The observation of all the bosses of African airlines is clear: the potential is there, but more needs to be done to increase traffic on the continent. “One of the major challenges facing the African continent is aviation. The current deficit is particularly significant because Africa represents more than 16% of the world’s population, while its air traffic volume is negligible.

Foreign companies “sugar” themselves in the African market.

Players in the sector are unanimous: it is time for African aviation operators to consolidate their efforts to weigh on the international scene. Most of the growth is expected to come from African companies, but unfortunately it is non-African companies that do most of the traffic. The question facing leaders in the African aviation industry is: How do we acquire, upgrade and innovate to become the leading companies on the continent?

It must be said that competition from European airlines such as Air France, Turkish Airlines and Brussels Airlines is particularly fierce. Even those from the Gulf countries have set their sights on the continent.

Faced with this situation, African operators would like to see the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) initiative.African Union (AU). It is the liberalization of African skies to boost the growth of air transport. At this level, it must be recognized that a great deal of work needs to be done in terms of harmonization and regulation among African countries. All the signatory countries have translated this initiative concretely on the ground, aiming to advance the development of the sector. Indeed, this liberalization is essential, especially as Africa’s population doubles by 2050. And the ambition of African players is to represent more than 10% of global traffic by this time frame. This liberalization is therefore an obligation to improve connectivity among African countries. Reducing taxes is necessary to provide adequate services to African consumers. African airports are the most expensive in the world, with fuel costs 35% higher than anywhere else in the world. That is, if Africa wants to create more traffic between different countries and attract more flows, it is necessary to implement this liberalization. According to IATA, while companies around the world make small but small profits per passenger, for their part, African airlines make a deficit per passenger.

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For their part, airport managers have an important responsibility. Airports should work to improve their service quality to attract more companies. Today, the major challenges facing these airport infrastructures are profitability, quality of service etc. “We have to work to make our airports more attractive to companies,” explained the general manager of an airport in West Africa. Adding further: “We are working to provide incentive solutions for airlines to open new routes and increase their frequencies and passenger numbers at the airport. Needless to say, we are in a very competitive universe and for our part, our airport wants to do well,” he adds. It should also be noted that the ambitions shown by African airlines are fueling the appetite of global manufacturers including Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier. Indeed, the rise of the African aviation industry will make airlines a major acquisition. Many national or regional companies need to strengthen their fleets to support the growth of transport. Blessed bread for the producers of the world who are already rubbing their hands together.

DR Congo: Necessary upgrade of aviation administrations

Kinshasa International Airport

The decentralization process initiated by the government of the DR Congo requires the creation of a transport system based on the complementarity of the main modes used. In fact, the country has a structurally heterogeneous geographical structure, which is a major handicap not only for promoting economic activities but also for regional planning. Due to the dilapidated condition and poor integration of land and river networks, among others, its huge area (2,345,000 km²), natural obstacles (mountain relief, waterways), poor mesh of its road networks, rail and river, the country’s internal opening depends on air transport. However, the advanced state of deterioration of the airport infrastructure and dilapidated air navigation aids where the country’s aviation sub-sector is located, prompts an operational slowdown that prevents this mode of transport from fulfilling its mission. At the airport level, runways and aprons built since 1950 have never been rehabilitated, so road surfaces are generally in poor condition; Technical buildings are substandard and dilapidated control towers no longer provide the required 360° panoramic visibility or doorways at the ends of the runway; Control positions were inadequate due to the small nature of the lookouts and the obsolescence of the consoles; Navigational aid equipment, which is already outdated with respect to current standards, is inadequate or non-existent depending on the site, making flight navigation uncertain throughout the entire airspace.

Lack of appropriate legal and regulatory framework and lack of adequate resources to effectively implement aviation safety/security oversight efforts of the administration is one of the major shortcomings of the transportation system. In addition, the country is strategically positioned in the security of the aviation sector regionally and internationally, as most flights between South Africa and Europe and Africa South Africa and West and East Africa use its vast airspace without adequate visual or surveillance systems. .

On the ground, the most direct consequences of such a situation are serious: high number of incidents/accidents (more than 50% of aviation accidents on the African continent with an average of 22 accidents per year); Banning airlines registered in DR Congo (100% blacklistedEuropean union); Continued threats of closure of the country’s major airports and boycott of traffic in the country’s airspace; Loss of revenue from aeronautical and non-aeronautical taxes.

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