The Director of Government, Legal and Industry Affairs, African Airlines Association (AFRAA), Aaron Munetsi has advocated for more focus on development of airport infrastructure in the African continent, in view of the impending trade development following the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
He said this at Aviation Day of the 16th AKWAABA Travel Market while speaking on the topic “Impact of Airport Development & Airlines on tourism growth”.
Munetsi, who was speaking at the event in Lagos yesterday, lamented that the infrastructure of airports does not encourage airline in the African countries to thrive.
“These airports are charging so much from these airlines, yet their infrastructure is crumbling. Airlines are losing money because they cannot operate in the airport. An airport in Malawi, Blantyre has been shut down for 5 months simply because they cannot put the infrastructure there into an operating mode. So, if an airline wants to operate through Blantyre, they have to change their schedule because they can’t fly to Blantyre. When they were flying, they were paying a lot of money to get into Blantyre. What happens to the money the airports collects?”
Munetsi also lamented on the exorbitant charges collected by airports from airlines adding that these charges prevent the airlines in Africa from growing.
“The amount of residual value that goes to the airport from airlines has risen from 21% to 38% in four years. So, if you pay for a ticket for 100 dollars, 38 dollars goes to the airport while the airlines are actually left with 62 dollars. Out of that 62 dollars, there have to pay a lot of charges and by the time they finish paying all these, the airlines retain 0.2 percent. According to IATA, in the past 10 years, African airlines have lost cumulatively, 140 billion dollars. The charges that the airports are charging to these airlines are excessive. Everybody who can charge an airline would charge them”.
According to him, AfCFTA will only be successful if the airports are effective, therefore he urged airports to provide the necessary requirements needed for airlines to grow and called for partnership between airlines and airports.
“The airport should be able to give the airline the frequency, availability, time and capacity to operate. In AFRAA, we are driving this. We are making it a task for airports to have these things so that the airlines can operate effectively. We are sick of hearing people say that African Airlines are not profitable. Its not their faults, its because the provider of these services are making things difficult for them. We want to make sure that when you are building an airport, you go to the airline, tell them about your plan and share ideas with the airline” he said.
Also speaking at the event, the Chief Operations Officer, Africa World Airlines, Sean Mendis advised government to create enabling environment for private airlines to thrive.
“The role of the government is to create an enabling environment where private airlines can thrive. If government create an environment where private airlines can thrive because there is access to funding, capital, infrastructure and trained personnel, it will also address unemployment. The private sector is in reality is what is going to grow Africa as a whole. The governments need to stop been corrupt, stop focusing on self interest and start looking at the bigger picture, then prosperity will follow” he opined.
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer of Belujane Konsult and an aviation consultant, Mr. Chris Aligbe who was one of the panelists at the event stressed the need for airports concessioning adding that it would help improve the infrastructural standards of airports.
“We do not have an African standard airport in our country. If we go ahead and we don’t create it, we will never make a headway. That is why the issue of concessioning our airport is important. If we don’t build new airport, we may not have world standard airport, there is no way we can make a headway even if we set up the best airline, the facilities would not be there. That is why a national airline and concessioned airport would be mandatory for our country” he said.
By Okuneye Moyosola