About 5 million out of Africa’s 7 million aviation and tourism industry-related jobs have been lost in 2020. Also, as much as $15 billion in revenue, half of this to African airlines.
This was disclosed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in a statement issued and seen by Nairametrics on Friday.
Vice President for Infrastructure, Industrialization and Private Sector, AfDB, Solomon Quaynor explained that the pandemic’s effect was felt more in Africa, a claim that was backed up by numerous panelists at the just concluded AfDB’s webinar themed ‘African Aviation Recovery Conference: coordinating an efficient response to the COVID-19 crisis’s effects on the Aviation sector in Africa.’
He said, “The air transport system is really at the forefront of all our collective objectives to realize Africa as a single economic bloc. The centrality of the aviation sector to Africa’s long-term goals by referencing three flagship projects of the AU’s Agenda 2063 that aim to advance open skies and closer connectivity: SAATM, The African Continental Free Trade Area, and the African Passport-Free movement of people.
“The air transport system is really at the forefront of all our collective objectives to realize Africa as a single economic bloc of 1.3 billion people with a GDP of almost 3 trillion dollars, for which we want to begin to really focus and increase trade among ourselves, as well as investment.”
Also at the event, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika called on African governments to embrace full liberalisation of the aviation sector, invoking the Yamoussoukro Decision, which established an arrangement for the gradual liberalization of intra-Africa air transport services.
He said, “Nigeria today has all its bilateral air service agreements with the YD and was also among the first ten countries that signed a commitment to implement the Single African Air Transport Market.”
Dr. Amani Abou Zeid, African Union Commission for Infrastructure and Energy, explained that Africa’s aviation industry represents a huge market that the continent’s airlines need to exploit more fully, with technology and AI offering the way forward for expansion, regional development experts.
“Technology and smart technologies are offering this fantastic opportunity, so let’s make use of AI, let’s make use of the Internet of Things, let’s capacitate our people to revamp and to rethink our industry, to make sure that both our airports and our airlines cater for the very near future,” said Zeid.
What they are saying
A key takeaway was the urgent need for coordinated action among the sector’s actors, including governments, aviation authorities and multilateral stakeholders such as the Bank.
“The time is now. All of us who have really been working on upstream issues such as SAATM, the World Bank, ourselves, the AU and others, now is the time to really pool our advocacy and resources to make this happen once and for all because if we continue to operate as a federation of 54 states as opposed to an integrated market, our economies will continue to be sub-optimal,” said Quaynor
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Exclusive: New airlines to emerge in Nigeria, as NCAA vets 23 more applications
While some new entrants have expressed interest to commence ownership of airlines, others have reached various stages in the acquisition of their Air Operators Certificates (AOC).
It appears that the Nigerian aviation sector has defied the norms, as about 23 airlines (investors) are currently seeking to start their operations in the most populous black nation.
This was disclosed by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in an exclusive interview granted Nairametrics by its General Manager, Public Relations, Sam Adurogboye.
While some new entrants have expressed interest to commence ownership of airlines, Adurogboye disclosed that others have reached various stages in the acquisition of their Air Operators Certificates (AOC).
Some of the airlines are NG Eagle and Green Africa Airways, which have reached an advanced stage in the acquisition of an AOC. Rano Air, Northeast Shuttle and a host of others have expressed interest too but are still being considered.
He said, “We are currently treating and vetting about 23 applications. More are still coming to operate in Nigeria because they know and believe that there are several opportunities in the sector. Most importantly, a lot of them have seen the way safety issues have been tackled in the sector recently. These are the factors that must have boosted investors’ confidence in Nigerian airspace.
It’s a good thing to desire to come onboard. The process is a black and white thing. What you need to do in one phase to go to second, second to third, you fulfil it and the team that is in charge work as a team. It is not by the Director-General at any particular time. It’s a team of engineers, airworthiness inspectors, medical. It’s a team and nobody can influence the other.”
What they are saying
However, aviation experts appeared worried arguing that the nation does not need more airlines but big body aircraft, a friendly business environment and access to cheaper funds.
An Aviation Consultant, Muyiwa Lucas, told Nairametrics in a recent interview that what the nation needs are big body aircraft, as they can take more passengers and favourably compete with foreign counterparts, who seem to have an edge over them.
He said, “Currently Nigeria is experiencing low capacity. There are not enough aircraft seats to meet the demand of passengers. If airlines use bigger aircraft that can take more, it is cheaper than two or three airlines plying the same route and at the end of the day, they are not filled. So many people would want to fly now considering the security threats on the road; and air travel is also the fastest, safest and most reliable means of travel.”
Another hurdle that curbs growth in the industry is cheap credit. Capt. David Olubadewo, Managing Director, Starburst Aviation Limited and a Nigerian based in the UK, explained that most of the airlines and other industry stakeholders could not access cheaper loans because banks believe that the sector is too difficult to invest in.
“But that is wrong. It is not different from other sectors. We are all in it to make a profit at the end of the day. I don’t obtain loans from Nigerian banks, because I will end up with a 25% loss or more, but that is not happening in the UK where I pay far less interest rates.
If I take such a loan in Nigeria, it means I am -25 percent (interest rate) in red, and by the time you get to the top, you are owing millions. I cannot approach any of the banks to give me local money to do business in Nigeria. If I can go through that, you can imagine the experiences of the airlines.”
What you should know
Last March, Nairametrics reported on the stages airlines need to cross before they can secure their AOCs in Nigeria.
Phase 1 – pre-application phase:
The NCAA will appoint a certification team and process the pre-application statement of intent form (AC-OPS 001). Discussions on all regulatory requirements, the formal application and attachments and any other related issues will take place. This is usually a week’s process.
Phase 2 – It involves a formal application for intending entrant where documents and manuals (including the curriculum vitae of key management personnel) must be submitted for evaluation. The minimum timeframe for the formal application phase is two weeks.
Phase 3 – It is a document evaluation phase where the NCAA will review the applicant’s manuals and other related documents and attachments to ensure conformity with the applicable regulations and safe operating practices. The minimum time frame for the document evaluation phase is three months.
Adurogboye added that the processes is simple and straight forward enough and the requirements are not meant to deter any investor. Contrary to that, they are meant to show capacity for safety for the particular operations to be embarked on.
He stressed that new airlines only come on board once they have fulfilled all the requirements in the staging process stating that the most critical of those stages are stages three and handing over the AOC to the operator.
Covid-19: WHO opposes proof of vaccination for international travel
According to the WHO, countries should know that requiring proof of vaccination deepens inequities and promotes unequal freedom of movement.
The World Health Organization’s Emergency Committee has opposed the request of proof of vaccination as a condition of entry for international travel.
This is due to the limited evidence on whether vaccination against Covid-19 is able to reduce the transmission of the disease and the persistent inequity in the global distribution of the vaccine.
This disclosure is contained in a statement issued by the WHO after the seventh meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, which was convened by the global health body’s Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on Thursday, April 15, 2021.
The recommendation by the WHO’s Emergency Committee is coming as various countries are considering the idea of launching vaccine passports for travellers and for other activities including sports.
The Committee said that countries should know that requiring proof of vaccination deepens inequities and promotes unequal freedom of movement.
The statement from the WHO’s Emergency Committee partly reads, “Do not require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry, given the limited (although growing) evidence about the performance of vaccines in reducing transmission and the persistent inequity in the global vaccine distribution.
“States Parties are strongly encouraged to acknowledge the potential for requirements of proof of vaccination to deepen inequities and promote differential freedom of movement.’’
The statement also pointed out the following:
- Prioritize vaccination for seafarers and aircrews in line with the Joint statement on prioritization of COVID-19 vaccination for seafarers and aircrew. Special attention should be paid to seafarers who are stranded at sea and who are stopped from crossing international borders for crew change due to travel restrictions, including requirements for proof of COVID-19 vaccination, to ensure that their human rights are respected.
- Implement coordinated, time-limited, risk-based, and evidence-based approaches for health measures in relation to international traffic, in line with WHO guidance and IHR provisions. If States Parties implement quarantine measures for international travellers on arrival at their destination, these measures should be based on risk assessments, and consider local circumstances.
- Reduce the financial burden on international travellers for the measures applied to them for the protection of public health (e.g. testing, isolation/quarantine, and vaccination), in accordance with Article 40 of the IHR.
- Share information with WHO on the effects of health measures in minimizing transmission of SARS-CoV-2 during international travel to inform WHO’s development of evidence-based guidelines.
What you should know
- The European Union member states have already agreed on vaccine certificates, China has launched a health certificate program for travellers, and airline companies are also considering requiring vaccination proof.
- The US had earlier this month said that it would not require vaccination passports but added that the private sector was free to explore the idea.
- The WHO, for now, has only approved 3 vaccines for the coronavirus—the one manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine made in India and South Korea, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
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