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23 September 2019

IATA Regional Aviation Forum - Kenya

Closing Remarks Muhammad Albakri, Regional Vice-President for Africa and Middle East


Aviation connecting and enriching Africa was the theme of this conference, and if we can harness the knowledge, enthusiasm, passion and drive in this room then aviation in Africa is really ready to take-off.

From our think tank panel on economics and sustainability this morning, we had some great insights into the enormous potential of aviation to drive economic growth and social development. 

But as we learned from our airline CEOs during the Airline of the Future panel – there is a lot to be done to ensure we can take advantage of the opportunities aviation presents. We need Governments to treat aviation as a pillar of economic development rather than a luxury. Implementing policy that supports its development – especially when it comes to infrastructure – is key.

As was evident from the panel on infrastructure, all too often we see Governments building mega airports and airlines are paying for them! Or there is a lack sufficient infrastructure.  The message from the panel was clear – airports need to be fit for purpose and come without a hefty price tag. The answer is consultation with users and economic regulation.

But as we learned in the SITA digital transformation panel, building bigger and bigger airports is not always the answer. New technology presents significant opportunities to improve efficiency and enhance passenger experience. For example, the use of biometrics as a single travel token and the use of AI to improve aircraft turnaround.

New technology creates enormous potential for our industry, however aviation requires a highly skilled workforce. Building human capacity to secure the future of our industry is critical. The workforce of the future panel highlighted the many challenges in Africa – we need to focus on training, investing in youth and promoting a strong culture of diversity and inclusion within the industry.

Moving onto safety and environmental sustainability- two of our industry’s main priorities.  As we learned from the Safety and Flight Operations panel, collaboration between stakeholders is essential. One of the key takeaways from the panel is the need to increase quality and timely information sharing.

In terms of environment this is becoming a hot topic in Europe. We’ve seen flight shaming become a hashtag.  I want to use this opportunity to encourage you to join IATA in shifting the narrative from the CO2 we produce (less than 2% of global emissions) to the massive economic and social benefits that we create. 

Today we touched on a few of the critical issues facing our industry and how we can overcome these. One thing that was clear throughout the day was the need to collaborate, cooperate and act. Africa can learn from the mistakes and achievements of other regions and has the opportunity to lead the way.

Africa’s potential is sky high. All of us in this room here today can be part of its bright future.

Thank you for a productive day.

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