GhanaWeb TV



Towards a more viable Aviation Industry in the ECOWAS sub-Region

Sun, 13 Nov 2011 Source: GNA

(GNA Feature by Belinda Ayamgha)

Accra, Nov 12, GNA - As a follow up to the consultative meeting of air transport experts held in Abuja, Nigeria on June 27, 2011, the air transport experts meeting on ‘A Viable Airline Industry in the ECOWAS Region’ was held in Accra from 21st to 23rd October 2011.

The meeting was prior to the high level meeting of Transport Ministers and CEOs of Airlines also held in Accra on 24th October 2011.

The goal of the meetings is to find solutions to the myriad of challenges facing the aviation industry in West Africa and to create a viable industry in the region. This has been necessitated, in the view of this writer, by poor performances of West Africa in the global aviation sector.

A study conducted by Dr Elisha Chingosho, African Airlines Association (AFRAA) Secretary General, on the state of the airline industry, stated that Africa’s market share in the aviation industry is only 2.5 to three per cent of the global market. It also stated that very few African airlines are profitable with European and Middle East carriers dominating the African sky.

The existence of West African owned and operated airlines - Ghana Airways, Air Afrique and Nigeria Airways, proud flag carriers of 14 independent West African nations, years ago, providing access to air transportation, was not only a matter of convenience and national pride; these corporations supported tens of thousands of important and well paying jobs throughout the West African region.

The collapse of these carriers and its various implications on aviation in the sub-region over the years, I believe has called for this bold measure to right the situation.

The meeting was attended by Ministers of Transport from the Republics of Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote D’ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra-Leone and Togo. It also included CEOs and representatives from African Airlines, Airports and Ground Handling Services, Air Navigation Services and Organisations such as the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA Commission) and Institut Africain des Metiers de l’Aerien (IAMA).

The meeting of experts deliberated on four main themes:

i. Situation of the ECOWAS Airlines,

ii. Facilitation of Operations by Civil Aviation Authorities,

iii. Cooperation and Competitiveness

iv. Strategy for a Viable Airline Industry in the ECOWAS Region.

The meeting concluded after its discussions that lack of conducive environment for a common air transport liberalised market, heavy operational costs of airlines, insufficient cooperation between the airlines, inadequate airport infrastructure, equipment and air navigation services to meet the obligations of annex 14 of the Chicago convention and limited financing sources for the airlines have all contributed to the current situation of airlines in the region.

On the second theme, it concluded that member states must meet ICAO standards and recommended practices regarding the issuance of air operator’s certificate, establish and fund legal, financial and managerial autonomy for civil aviation administrations.

On cooperation and competitiveness, it emphasised the need for airlines to further collaborate with each other in line with ECOWAS objectives.

Lastly, the meeting of experts said the ECOWAS commission should lead the process of strategising for a viable airline industry in the region within the context of improving aviation safety and facilitating the development of a framework for inter airline cooperation.

Based on the above, the meeting of ministers adopted five resolutions based on recommendations made by the experts in aviation to be submitted to their various governments for approval before implementation starts.

So the next step in the vision of having a viable airline industry in West Africa is for the governments of the countries represented to approve the recommendations contained in the five resolutions.

In the meantime, Ghana has offered to host the newly created air transport unit of ECOWAS in Accra.


Columnist: GNA