No matter what political or economic problems that the continent may have Africa’s airline industry is a thriving one thanks to the global demand for all things African. Whether it be resources exported out of the country or tourists brought in, air travel is not only effective and fast, but also still one of the safest means of travel. To ensure that there is sufficient growth in the industry to keep the planes in the air, the African Airline Association was created as a trade organisation to open new doors of opportunity and keep the skies clear for future growth.
Established in 1968 in Accra, Ghana, AFRAA has 40 members from African Union member states and follows a simple but effective creed, “To be the leader and catalyst for the growth of a globally competitive and integrated African airline industry”
The creation of the association was not something that merely transpired on a whim. Brought about as a result of historic developments and economic imperatives at the time, its aim was specifically to serve African airlines, thus promoting and protecting their common interests.
To explain, in the early 1960s a great number of African States acceded to independence and created their own national airlines. Most of these airlines became members of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). AFRAA had its conceptual beginning in 1963, when a number of African airlines, taking the opportunity provided by the IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) began holding consultation meetings prior to the IATA AGMs to discuss matters of interest to African airlines and to adopt common positions. This was the first step towards the creation of AFRAA.
From that first step, in Rome in 1963, the establishment in 1968 in Accra, of a regional organisation for the articulation of regional views and promotion of co-operation was undertaken by 14 founding members. The first Annual General Assembly was held in Cairo, Egypt, in February 1969 and approved the Articles of Association, among other decisions taken.
Looking back at the last four and a half decades shows that AFRAA can modestly claim a couple of factors. Firstly, that it has stood in the forefront of major initiatives in the air transport field in Africa in sensitising African airlines to take concrete actions for co-operation in operational, commercial, technical and training fields. Secondly, that they were instrumental in sensitising African Governments through the African Civil Aviation Commission and other regional and sub-regional organisations, as to the actions to be taken for the development of an efficient air transport system. It has been a catalyst for all the major policy decisions on the continent.
Last year, at the 47th Annual General Assembly in Congo Brazzaville, African aviation industry leaders called for intensified cooperation among African airlines and the engagement of all stakeholders to support the liberalisation of African skies. The call for the engagement of all specialised institutions in the aviation sector to support African States in order to expedite the implementation of fully liberalised African skies towards the establishment of a single African air transport market by 2017 was accompanied by a call for intensified cooperation among African airlines in order to stimulate the development of inter-African air transport.
The three-day conference, which was convened under the high patronage of His Excellency Denis Sassou Nguesso, the President of the Republic of Congo, was held under the theme “Open skies: Growth through competition and collaboration” and was attended by over 500 high profile delegates from 46 countries across the world.
Security is a particularly trending topic today when it comes to discussing anything to do with air flight. Understanding this, AFRAA, in accordance with its mandate of open discussions and informative solutions, keeps all of its members up to date with the latest developments affecting them. For example, when the European Council adopted EU passenger name record directives to curb terrorism, many of the members heard it first from AFRAA.
In April 2016, The European Council adopted a directive on the use of passenger name record (PNR) data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime, according to a press statement made available to PANA in Dar es Salaam. It said the directive aims to regulate the transfer from the airlines to the member states of PNR data of passengers of international flights, as well as the processing of the data by competent authorities.
“The directive establishes that PNR data collected may only be processed for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime,” said the EC, elaborating that under the new directive, air carriers would be obliged to provide member states’ authorities with the PNR data for flights entering or departing from the EU.
“It will also allow, but not oblige, member states to collect PNR data concerning selected intra-EU flights.
“However, considering the current security situation in Europe, all member states declared that by the date of transposition of the directive they will make full use of the possibility provided for by Article 2 to include also selected intra-EU flights.
“Each member state will also be required to set up a so-called Passenger Information Unit, which will receive the PNR data from the air carriers,” the EC added statement said.
Accordingly, the new rules create an EU standard for the use of such data and include provisions on the purposes for which PNR data can be processed in the context of law enforcement (pre-arrival assessment of passengers against pre-determined risk criteria or in order to identify specific persons; the use in specific investigations/prosecutions; input in the development of risk assessment criteria), as well as the exchange of such data between the member states and between member states and third countries.
It will also affect common protocols and data formats for transferring the PNR data from the air carriers to the Passenger Information Units and strong safeguards as regards to the protection of privacy and personal data, including the role of national supervisory authorities and the mandatory appointment of a data protection officer in each Passenger Information Unit.
AFRAA 2016 to be held in Victoria Falls
Air Zimbabwe is to host the next African Airline Association (AFRAA) Annual General Assembly, which will take place on 20-22 November 2016.
Victoria Falls was selected as the 2016 venue, following the appointment of Air Zimbabwe acting CEO Edmund Makona as AFRAA’s latest president, succeeding ECAir director general Fatima Beyina-Moussa in the one-year revolving position. The 2015 event, held in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, was the largest in AFRAA’s history, attracting over 500 delegates.
Makona accepted the handover by breaking into song about “beautiful Zimbabwe” on stage during the closing ceremony, drawing a round of applause from the conference room. “We are more than excited to be hosting in the magnificent city of Victoria Falls,” Makona said.
The incoming AFRAA president went on to stress the importance of AFRAA’s vision for a globally competitive African aviation industry.
“A vision [for liberalisation] is now being ignited; we are entering a new era and a new phase for AFRAA where everything has to be done yesterday. This is about the ‘now-ness’ of AFRAA. We promise nothing less than the best,” he said.
The meeting will take place between 20-22 November at the Elephant Hills Hotel, Victoria Falls and the city’s airport is currently being upgraded so it can handle wide body aircraft.
In conclusion, it is safe to say that the future direction of Africa’s airline industry will surely be decided here.