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African Airlines Association: Flying Above and Beyond with African Airlines

With air traffic set to double in the next 20 years, African Airlines Association (AFFRA) is on a mission to promote, serve and champion Africa’s aviation industry. By facilitating the cooperation between airlines, AFFRA aims to enhance the visibility, reputation, and influence of African airlines in the global aviation industry, all whilst remaining crucially conscious of the environmental impacts of air transport on the world.   

Founded in Ghana in 1968, AFFRA sought to support and improve the aviation industry of Africa. At the present day, they boast 46 airline members across the continent who are supporting and developing the African economy. As a trade organisation for African airlines, AFFRA focuses on every aspect of aviation from its cost, reliability, sustainability, and partnerships, so it is no doubt that AFFRA is a leading organisation in the airline industry. AFFRA has not only established itself as a leading voice for African aviation but critically as a voice for environmental and sustainable change in the air transport industry internationally.  

AFFRA is keenly concerned with sustainability throughout its work in the aviation industry. They are committed to reducing aviation’s net carbon dioxide emissions to half of what it was in 2005, by 2050. AFFRA specifically aims to aid in this by implementing resolutions focusing on technological improvements, operational efficiencies, infrastructure development and sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). Notably, they work closely with their airline members to foster the implementation of fuel conservation programmes, where they champion the use of biofuel in place of A1 refined jet fuel from crude oil. This comes as the positive impacts have already been seen in the use of biofuel in South African airline operations between Johannesburg and Cape Town.  

Furthermore, AFFRA has access to a new fleet of aircraft which burns less fuel during flights. These planes meet stricter environmental standards and recommended practices (SARPs) which ultimately reduces their environmental impact. AFFRA reinforces this by ensuring flexible routings for its members to exploit the high altitudes and winds, which reduces flight times and decreases the fuel burnt. All of this is to encourage the airlines under AFFRA to remain consciously aware of the environment by significantly limiting the amount of carbon dioxide that is emitted by their air travel.  

A crucial pillar of AFFRA’s strategy is on ensuring safety is a top priority for all their members. AFFRA have adopted the safety targets of Abuja Aviation to champion a cohesive high level of safety which is consistent throughout their member airlines. AFFRA has set up a 5-pillar approach to regulating safety throughout its members by adopting the Abuja Safety Targets, having operational compliance of African carriers with international standards, focusing on data-driven safety management, infrastructure safety and fleet modernization. All of this is in an effort to ensure that all AFFRA airlines are contributing towards creating a positive perception of safety across air transport in Africa, which ultimately is hoped to contribute greatly towards increasing the use of African airlines and consequently aid in the economic development of the region.  

AFFRA’s key concern is supporting the African economy, by reinforcing a reduction in costs of air transport services in Africa with reduced taxes, fees, and charges. They believe that by improving the public reception of aviation as constantly developing and being the most affordable it can be, they can tackle the disparity between experience and the fees or taxes from air travel. By tackling this gap AFFRA aims to reinforce the economic stance of African air travel. As it stands, air transport is not profitable in Africa, especially when it is compared to air travel in Europe or the Middle East, as prices to travel via African airlines are often double the price of their counterparts. Therefore, this gap is something AFFRA are keen to address throughout their association. 

However, like the rest of the tourism industry, airlines suffered a massive knock following the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. Therefore, at the 52nd Annual General Assembly hosted by AFFRA, it was called for airlines to take specific measures to build resilience and emerge stronger after the pandemic. Specifically, there was a calling at the assembly for a multi-sectional approach by government and stakeholders to support the recovery of the air transport industry and its interrelated sectors such as tourism.  

Currently, African aviation only accounts for less than 3% of the world market, and so AFFRA is seeking to improve this statistic and bring African air transport into a leading role in the aviation sector. However, in line with the desired increase in African aviation, issues are raised regarding the potential environmental impacts this may have on the continent. To combat this AFFRA has put strategies in place with local environmental targets and deliverables to ensure a sustainable industry. Furthermore, AFFRA, along with Ethiopian Airlines has scheduled a convention for May 2023 to begin focusing on changing the future of the African airline industry.  

Ultimately, AFFRA spearheads the way for African aviation and its growing role in economic development across Africa. Alongside their striving for sustainable practices in the coming years, AFFRA will continue to focus on promoting and developing the growth of the airline industry both in Africa and globally, through advocacy, partnerships for development, and data intelligence.