Kigali, Republic of Rwanda, 14 November 2017: The African Airlines Association concluded its 49th Annual General Assembly and Summit in Kigali, Republic of Rwanda at the Kigali Convention Centre, with a call for African Governments and stakeholders to enable airlines to improve intra-Africa connectivity by unlocking the barriers to connectivity. The 23 States that have signed up for the full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision towards the Single African Air Transport market were urged to follow through on their commitment in order to stimulate the development of inter-African air transport and the realization of aviation’s economic and social benefits. The Assembly also called upon States with blocked funds to release airline sales revenues for airlines to do business effectively.
The three-day conference which was convened under the high patronage of the Government of the Republic of Rwanda was officially opened by Rt. Honourable Edouard Ngirente, the Prime Minister of Rwanda on behalf of His Excellency Paul Kagame, the President of the Republic of Rwanda. The event was held under the theme “Rethinking strategies for airline profitability in Africa” and was attended by over 450 high profile delegates from 52 countries across the world.
Opening the 49th AGA and Summit, the Right Honourable Ngirente highlighted the importance accorded to aviation by the Government of Rwanda as an enabler of economic transformation. He cited the Government’s initiatives such as the new Bugesera International Airport project and the support to RwandAir’s fleet and route expansion plans. In order for the aviation industry in Africa to catch up with the rest of the world, he called upon African Governments and airlines to harmonize their operations including airport taxes, improve and expand the aviation infrastructure and train the required personnel. He further urged States to facilitate the movement of people across borders by providing visas at the port of entry for those requiring them and called upon countries yet to sign the Yamoussoukro Decision to do so as a matter of urgency. “Let us all strive to work together to continue promoting the African aviation sector for the better future of the entire African continent,” he said.
Col. Chance Ndagano, Ag. CEO of RwandAir and President of AFRAA paid tribute to the Government of Rwanda’s support that has seen the country achieve huge strides in aviation and economic development. Commenting on the theme of the AGA, which was timely with the current state of the industry, Col Ndagano welcomed aviation leaders attending the Assembly to seek ideas towards lasting solutions to the perennial challenges that have led to the loss of market share and poor financial performance. He highlighted to the Assembly RwandAir’s achievements that had been realized as testimony to the Government’s commitment to the development of aviation. “Through the Government’s support, RwandAir is making a positive contribution to the region’s aviation industry,” he said.
Dr. Elijah Chingosho, AFRAA Secretary General in his welcome remarks commended the Government of Rwanda for facilitating the development of the country as a preferred business and tourist destination and for supporting the country’s national carrier, RwandAir. He acknowledged the strides made in the aviation industry in Africa on safety standards, liberalization and removal of non-physical barriers to movement of people and goods and called upon stakeholders to increase the momentum to foster increased intra-Africa trade, integration and socio-economic development. Among various challenges faced by airlines, Dr. Chingosho highlighted the issue of blocked funds and high industry costs that needed to be addressed. “There is need for a policy shift from governments treating air transport as a preserve for the rich but rather as a means of mass transport and major contributor to economic and social development of African countries,” he said.
Aviation leaders at the Assembly discussed various challenges facing African aviation and made resolutions on key focus areas.
Appointment of officers
The 49th AFRAA AGA elected Mr. Safwat Musallam, Group Chairman of EgyptAir Group, as Chairman of the Executive Committee. Col. Chance Ndagano, Ag. CEO of RwandAir was elected as the First Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee while Mr. Sebastian Mikosz, CEO of Kenya Airways, was elected as 2nd Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee. The AFRAA Executive Committee has oversight responsibility for the Association and crafts policy as well as overseeing implementation of projects and programmes by the Secretariat.
The Assembly also elected three new members to replace those whose term of office on the Executive Committee expired at the close of the 49th AGA. Mr. Ilyes Mnakbi, CEO of Tunisair, was elected to represent the Northern Africa Region, Mr. Desiré Balazire Bantu, CEO of Congo Airways, was elected to represent the West/Central Region, while Mr. Joseph Makonise, Ag. CEO of Air Zimbabwe was elected to represent the Southern Africa region. The three members will serve for a term of 3 years each up to the close of the 52nd AGA.
Appointment of new Secretary General
The Assembly confirmed the appointment Mr. Abderahmane Berthé as the new Secretary General of AFRAA. With a total of 28 years’ experience in airline industry, of which 16 years as an airline CEO, Mr. Berthé has built his career in various airlines and multicultural environment both in Europe and Africa at positions such as aircraft performance and dispatch engineering, maintenance and operations quality, ground operations and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Berthé has been active in many associations including: the European Regional Airlines Association (ERA) operations committee, AFRAA Executive Committee and ECOWAS airlines steering committee. He is the holder of a Private Pilot License which he obtained in 1985 for Single Engine Aircrafts.
Host of 50th AGA
Royal Air Maroc was elected by the 49th Assembly as President of AFRAA and host of the 50th AGA in the Kingdom of Morocco, from 25 – 27 November in 2018. As a prelude to what delegates should expect next year, a short video on some of the facilities and attractions that will be sampled during the AGA was played by a representative of Royal Air Maroc.
The Assembly recognized two companies and one individual for their remarkable performance and contribution to aviation industry. Ethiopian Airlines was crowned Airline of the year for exceptional financial performance in 2016, exemplary strategic cooperation with regional airlines and extensive intra-African network development. The Government of Rwanda received the Service Provider of the Year Award for outstanding services and initiatives that have given a major boost to aviation, trade and tourism in Africa while the Airport Company of South Africa (ACSA) received the Service Provider of the Year Award for significant reduction in airport charges in South Africa which is facilitating the development of African airlines. The awards were conferred at a colourful gala dinner at the Serena Kigali Hotel.
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The Secretary General
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