By Chinelo Obogo
The African Aviation Industry Group (AAIG) recently held its annual Aeropolitical Forum following the successful conclusion of the AFRAA 53rd Annual General Assembly with theme, “African Aviation Restart and Recovery,” This came as ndustry stakeholders at the forum agreed on a set of actions for implementation during the year 2022 and beyond.
The main focus areas of discussion were on a risk-based approach for reopening of borders, restart and recovery, attaining viability of the African air transport industry and other aeropolitical developments. The Forum had articulated a number of recommendations that the AAIG shall take on-board in its 2022 Plan of activities for action.
The Forum was attended by over 150 participants comprising representatives of African aviation institutions including African Union (AU) and African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), Development agencies including African Development Bank (AFDB), African airlines, civil aviation authorities, airport operators, airline associations, government entities, aircraft manufacturers and aviation solutions and service providers.
The AAIG called for collaboration and alignment of all stakeholders of the aviation ecosystem in Africa and advocated for consistency and non-discriminatory practices through the lifting of prohibitive travel restrictions, such as cumbersome quarantines, restrictions on WHO-approved vaccines and confusing or punitive testing protocols for air travelers.
The stakeholders also agreed on the need to harmonise digital platforms for traveler health credentials and border entry requirements, to manage certifications for COVID-19 tests and/or vaccination, and to share their information directly with governments and airlines. The AAIG urged African governments to embrace the use of digital technology and a data-driven approach to facilitate a safe reopening of international travel.
The AAIG members also urged African states to provide targeted and direct financial support to the entire aviation ecosystem to ensure that the multiplier effects of air travel can positively impact the social and economic welfare of the entire population of Africa. It also emphasised the liberalisation of the air transport market and the enhancement of intra-African air connectivity are vital to the recovery and sustainability of African economies.