1. What is the role of IATA?  

The International Air Transport Association represents 240 airlines, which equates to 84% of global air traffic. Its mission is to represent, lead and serve the industry, as well as help define the industry’s standards. IATA also works with governments to create a safe, secure, successful and sustainable air transport system, and is a facilitator of industry projects, policy positions and training.

2. What are your thoughts on the current state of the African aviation industry?  

African airlines are struggling under a burden of regulation, taxation, and inadequate infrastructure. Our industry forecast for 2012 estimates that African airlines will, with their European counterparts, be the only region to make a collective loss (around $100 million). While there are some success stories, African aviation needs investment and a commitment to raising safety levels, if it is to match the growth and profitability of other emerging regions such as the Middle East, where they have a supportive regulatory environment, which nurtures and encourages growth in the region, and which fully understands the benefits of aviation. 

3. What’s the perception of the African aviation industry, in the eyes of the rest of the world?  

The biggest reputational issue for African aviation is safety. The safety rate in Africa is nine times the global average, but to a certain extent the figures are skewed by one or two particularly bad areas.

4. What are your thoughts on an ‘open skies’ policy in Africa?

Aviation is an enabler of long-term economic growth. Intra-Africa travel is scarce and time consuming, and often aviation is the only transportation solution for people, goods and services. We encourage regulatory bodies to open up their air space and airports to fundamentally improve African transport aviation infrastructure and connectivity.

5. What are your thoughts on African aviation going forward?

It needs to improve safety, and it’s not only operators – governments have a particularly important role to play. Similarly, they should be investing in modern infrastructure. Air transport in Africa supports 6.7 million jobs, and in monetary terms, the industry stimulates a $67.8 billion contribution to Africa’s GDP. So, it is clear that there is a lot to be gained from pursuing a growth and connectivity agenda in Africa.