Speaking at the AFRAA (Association of African Airlines) Annual General Assembly in Tripoli, Libya, Giovanni Bisignani, IATA Director General and CEO stressed the role of air transport as "a powerful factor of development and economic integration for Africa." Libyan President Moammar Kaddhafi had previously delivered the opening address.
Advocating the creation of an African single aviation market, Bisignani emphasized the urgent need to keep on improving Africa's aviation safety record. He presented the recent launch of the Africa Safety Enhancement Team (ASET), an IATA initiative backed by the world's top aviation organizations, as a proof of the commitment of the world aviation community to achieve ambitious safety goals on the continent.
The ASET initiative is targeting a drop of the African accident rate of 50% by 2010, thus bringing it to the level of the world's best standards.
In Tripoli, IATA and the International Airline Training Fund (IATF) also announced an immediate program to develop the African airlines' human capital. Following a wide-ranging survey of African airlines training needs, IATA and IATF are mobilizing resources in order to provide African aviation with the skills that it needs to contribute to the continent's social and economic development.
In concluding his statement, Bisignani pointed out that African airlines must drive African aviation development themselves: "IATA is just here as a facilitator, African airlines have to pick up the ball and run with it. It is your commitment and your involvement that will help bring about the changes that are needed."