Airlines have always been a sizeable sector in TIACA’s membership. The 49th Annual General Assembly of African Airlines Association (AFRAA), held from 12th — 14th November 2017 in Kigali, Rwanda, was the Summit not to be missed.
The program was structured around the theme: “Rethinking strategies for airline profitability in Africa”.
The organization was excellent, hospitality superb, discussions lively and informative, and yet I am returning with mixed feelings. I shared my distress with the organizers, with some presenters, and with the audience while talking from the panel.
There is no criticism in my remarks — neither now nor at the time of making my statements from the floor and from the podium. Not even disappointment, but rather concerns that talking about strategies and profitability the Summit participants have left out a large portion of contributing factors, which may affect as much as 20% of their profits. Air cargo issues virtually were non-existent in the program or in the statements. Even e-Commerce was reduced basically to the sale of air tickets online and convenience of using smart phones for buying, boarding, and using in-flight, where Wi-Fi is available.
I had a discussion with the representative of Seabury Consulting, who while making his presentation titled “Adopting the right airline business model in Africa”, didn’t say a word about the air cargo business. He later wrote to me admitting that, “in a region such as Africa in which cargo is playing such an important role, it certainly was an unfortunate omission on my part…”. But more importantly he and his other colleague, who spoke the day after, agreed to consult the cargo side of the Seabury firm in the future to make their presentations more comprehensive.
The good news is that the Secretariat of AFRAA received this friendly help from TIACA positively, and at the end of the Summit, on 14th November, we signed a MoU with a view to strengthen cooperation on aviation matters.
The MoU stated our intention to work together with a view of strengthening cooperation on aviation matters in air cargo and mail safety, security and facilitation; we will be working on replacing paper-based practices with electronic ones, on liberalization of market access for air cargo services, and modernization of all the processes of air cargo transportation.
We intend to keep each other informed of projected activities and programmes of work in the fields mentioned above and participate in each other’s events. We will promote attendance by respective members at the relevant conferences and meetings and will be working on the organization of joint events and conduct capacity building assistance and activities, including training and support activities.
I have signed the memorandum with Dr. Elijah Chingosho, Secretary General of the African Airlines Association who has been at the helm of the Association for about a decade. He wrote to me “It is indeed important that cargo receives the attention it deserves at AFRAA forums and conferences … our association with TIACA will significantly help our airlines in developing their cargo sector.”
Though Dr. Chingosho will be leaving AFRAA at the end of this year, his successor, Mr. Abdérahmane BERTHÉ, AFRAA Secretary General Designee, is equally keen to work together on the air cargo issues. He took part in the discussion of the Memorandum and in the signing ceremony. Our new member of the TIACA Board, Sanjeev S. Gadhia, CEO of Astral Aviation, was very instrumental in preparation of the Memorandum, and will continue to be active in its implementation and in securing stable connection between AFRAA and TIACA.
Now coming to another region, where TIACA has been actively expanding its links — Latin America and the Caribbean. Sebastiaan Scholte, Chairman of the TIACA Board, has been renewing his Latin American connections and forging new ones. Following this, at the level of the Secretariat we are establishing working relations with ALACAT (Federación de Asociaciones Nacionales de Agentes de Carga y Operadores Logísticos Internacionales de América Latina y el Caribe), the key air cargo logistics association, and “Americas Alliance”, freight forwarders network with a global membership and focus in the Americas.
Will keep you informed about further developments.
TIACA Secretary General