The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called for a renewed focus on aviation safety to help Africa reap the benefits of aviation connectivity, as it expressed concern over the continent’s accident rate.
In 2005 Africa recorded nearly 10 hull losses per million flights with Western built jets. By 2008 that had been reduced to two. “That was still 2.5 times worse than the global average, but it was a significant step forward. In 2009, the rate jumped back to 9.94 and in 2010 it was 7.41. Two hull losses so far in 2011 put the rate at 4.33 against a global average of 0.37. The trend is once again in the right direction. And there have been no hull losses this year with IATA carriers. But aviation must be safe for all airlines and in all regions. And that means we have much work to do in Africa,” said IATA CEO and Director-General Tony TylerTyler, who was addressing airline CEOs, government leaders, policy makers and industry stakeholders at the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) AGM in Marrakech, Morocco.
“It is time again to muster the political will that we found in 2005 to improve safety. I have high expectations for the African Safety Summit’s two ambitious goals for 2015: to reduce Africa’s accident rate to the global average and to remove African carriers from the European list of banned airlines. IATA does not believe that banning carriers improves safety. Implementing global standards and best practices—as we do with the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA)—delivers results. None-the-less, the list of banned airlines is a political reality that is not going to disappear. And improving safety is incumbent on all in this industry. So we need to work together,” said Tyler.
In May the European Commission announced that airlines from 15 African countries were banned from flying to the European Union (EU) due to safety concerns.
Runway excursions are the biggest safety challenge for Africa, IATA said. Working with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a revised Runway Excursion Risk Reduction Toolkit was produced this year. “For the toolkit to improve safety, it needs to be used - by airlines, air navigation service providers (ANSPs) and airports,” said Tyler.
Tyler praised Nigerian Director General of Civil Aviation, Dr. Harold Demuren, who will complete his tenure in February 2012, for achievements in Nigeria. In 2005 it had the worst safety record on the continent with four of the eight hull losses in that year. Since 2007 Nigeria has had no hull losses. “Dr. Demuren’s leadership proved that world-class safety is possible in Africa. His work and many innovations should be an inspiration. Included among these, IOSA was made a requirement for long-haul operations from Nigeria. I urge other African governments to follow his example,” said Tyler.
IATA also called for a strong partnership to drive innovative solutions to the other challenges facing aviation in the region: security, environmental sustainability and infrastructure.
With COP-17 opening next week in Durban South Africa, Tyler repeated aviation’s commitment to environmental sustainability, through its targets of fuel efficiency improvements of 1.5% per year to 2020, carbon neutral growth from 2020, and a cut in net emissions of 50% by 2050 compared to 2005. He also noted the great opportunities for sustainable biofuels. “With the potential to reduce aviation’s carbon footprint by up to 80%, sustainable biofuels are an innovation that is a potential game changer. The challenge is commercialization. There is huge potential for Africa to develop local biofuels industries that could spread economic opportunities even in the most remote corner of the continent,” he said. Mozambique is already producing raw biofuel, which is being processed abroad and used by Lufthansa.
Regarding infrastructure, Tyler said the development of cost-effective infrastructure is crucial to the future health of African aviation. But infrastructure development fees are being imposed on airlines with little prior notification or consultation. The combined annual cost to airlines of three introduced since 2008 in Mali, Senegal and the DR Congo is over US$100 million, more than the African industry made in 2010. “Airlines and infrastructure providers share a common future. But we must safeguard and be guided by ICAO principles of non-discrimination, consultation, transparency, cost-relatedness and without pre-financing,” said Tyler.
African carriers posted a US$100 million profit in 2010. IATA expects the continent’s carriers to break even in 2011 and fall into losses of US$100 million in 2012. This is in line with a global trend of declining profitability in the face of global economic weakness.
“We must work together to ensure that every government in the continent understands aviation as an engine for sustainable development and a key pillar of economic strategy. Africa will benefit greatly by harnessing the power of a successful aviation industry. To ensure that aviation delivers on its potential, we must work together - industry and government - to ensure that aviation is safe secure, environmentally sustainable and well supported with efficient infrastructure,” said Tyler.