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Important for African aviation to develop, retain skills

Oct 21 2016 17:31
Carin Smith

Cape Town - The development and retention of skills is a priority for the airline industry in Africa, Chris Zweigenthal, CEO of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (Aasa), said on Friday.

"Africa is successfully training and developing its own pipeline of talented aviation professionals, particularly pilots, engineers, technicians, air traffic service officials, airline network, revenue and fleet managers and other specialists whose skills are often sought after in other parts of the world, he said at Aasa's 46th annual general assembly taking place in Swakopmund, hosted by Air Namibia and SA Express.

"Because ours is a globally competitive industry, we have to accept that the retention of these skills comes at a premium and we have to make staying a more competitive proposition."

He pointed out that some original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are adding further value by having actively invested in nurturing the capabilities and capacities of local suppliers in engineering, manufacturing, research and development. This was done through partnerships with local industry and research institutions.

READ: African aviation 'trapped in its own bubble'

Transformation

Zweigenthal emphasised that the imperative to promote transformation cannot be ignored in the industry. He sees this as especially important in South Africa and Namibia, which are striving to redress "the legacy of historically imposed imbalances".

In his view transformation must include creating greater opportunities for and inclusion of women in all spheres of the industry, as well as aspiring aviation-minded young people.

Partnership

"Airlines are competitive, but commercial agreements or alliances improve performance. Similarly, Aasa has always devoted itself to forging and improving relationships with its members, with governments and regulatory authorities and with all industry partners and stakeholders," said Zweigenthal.

To him an example would be where partnership between government and the industry is required to improve immigration and visa regulations.

READ: SA aviation needs to inspire confidence - expert   

"While not compromising safety and security of passengers, states within our region need to simplify the visa process to facilitate easier access and movement within the region and avoid the unintended consequences associated with sometimes restrictive regulations," said Zweigenthal.

Another example for him is the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project being developed in the Karoo. In his view this could have a significant impact on airline operations if a technical solution is not found between the Departments of Science and Technology and Transport to resolve conflict in radio frequency ownership.

"We need to learn from the experiences of other regions like Asia, Latin America and even the European Union - which have made similar journeys before us – to find out what worked, what didn’t, and to apply the lessons learned in our region," concluded Zweigenthal.

Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter:

aasa  |  airlines  |  africa economy  |  aviation
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