Maputo - Leaders in the African aviation industry at an aeropolitical forum in Maputo have sounded a warning on the increasing threat they face from airlines outside the continent.
Chris Zweigenthal, CEO of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA), said airlines are generally not making enough revenue to recover costs. He said the opening up of air space between African countries is limited.
“At the same time international carriers, in particular from the Gulf, are expanding their reach into Africa at a rapid rate, creating additional barriers to African growth in our own regions.”
He said African airlines - 24 are operating in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region alone - should form a partnership to be more competitive.
“Across the region partnership between the airline industry, governments and stakeholders is essential. The industry in our regions is not in a healthy state and we need a fundamental overhaul,” said Zweigenthal.
“This year Velvet Sky ceased operations, 1Time is under business rescue, South African Airways is experiencing major challenges of its own and Air Zimbabwe and Air Malawi are working on turnaround strategies.”
Inathi Ntshanga, CEO of SA Express, said African airlines have to talk about how to work together.
“We’re quick to work with airlines from other continents, less so with our own.”
Erik Venter, Comair CEO, said he believes it is almost too late to turn around African aviation.
“We’re already losing our position as a hub to other continents. We’re on the back foot and it’s going to take a big thing to turn it all around, but it is possible.”
Airline executives, industry players like Boeing, Airbus and Embraer as well as airports and air navigation bodies have gathered at the 42nd annual meeting of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa this week.
The body represents 17 airlines based in the Sadc region.
Topics discussed included the high fuel price, lack of skills and the future of biofuel in the industry.
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