Geneva - IATA today announced the appointment of Vinod Chidambaram as Regional Vice President for Africa, heading up the Association's strengthened presence in the region. "This is a significant strengthening of our African resources. As African aviation continues to develop, critical issues from safety to liberalisation require a strong industry voice. Our new Africa team has the knowledge and experience to make a very positive contribution," said Giovanni Bisignani, Director General and CEO of IATA.

Chidambaram, former Managing Director of Air Mauritius, will join IATA on 28 September. He will head a newly created Regional Headquarters for Africa, located in Johannesburg, which will consolidate leadership of IATA's key activities including Safety, Operations & Infrastructure, Member & Government Relations and Industry Distribution & Financial Services. "I look forward to bringing IATA's involvement in Africa to a higher level with greater cost effectiveness," said Chidambaram.

Other members of the Africa leadership team are Darren Sack, Regional Director for Industry Distribution & Financial Services (Johannesburg) and Peter Chikumba, Director Member & Government Relations (Nairobi). Jehad Faqir, Director Safety, Operations & Infrastructure for the Middle East will assume responsibility for Africa on an acting basis.

IATA will continue to operate and expand its network of national offices in Africa. These offices provide a local presence for IATA to understand and respond to member needs in key markets across Africa.

"The need for change in aviation has never been more urgent and IATA's mission to lead, represent and serve the airline industry has never been more relevant. Key projects like the global introduction of e-ticketing by 2007 will require significant efforts in Africa. The creation of a regional office for Africa positions us to better serve our African members at this critical juncture," said Bisignani.

Notes for Editors:
1. IATA has offices in 9 African countries (Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Kenya, Mauritius, Morocco, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Zimbabwe).

2. IATA operates industry settlements programmes (BSP) covering 24 countries. In the first half of 2004, the IATA settlements programme grew 7.49% in the volume of tickets handled (Standard Ticketing Documents) and 20.85% in transaction value over the same period in 2003.

3. African Passenger Traffic Trend: Passenger traffic for African airlines has recovered solidly during 2004 from the depressed levels of 2003 following the damage to confidence from SARS. We are now seeing double-digit increases in passenger traffic. Approximately half of the increase this year is a one-off rebound from SARS and half an underlying improvement in traffic. IATA monthly statistics

4. Freight traffic trend: Freight traffic has shown good, although volatile, growth over the past year, having recovered from the downturn in international trade during 2001. Stripping out the volatile swings in the headline freight growth numbers still shows solid underlying growth of approximately 10%.

Traffic Trend Graphs

5. 2004 IATA Industry Priorities: Each year the IATA Board of Governors sets IATA's industry priorities. This year the priorities cover areas of Safety, Security, Financial, Regulatory, and Operations. Of these, some have specific relevance to Africa and will be the focus of IATA's Regional Office for Africa:

;a. Safety. This is the industry's number one priority and a special concern for Africa where the accident rate remains the worst in the world. IATA is leading a special African safety initiative called ASET (African Safety Enhancement Team), which targets a 50% reduction of the African accident rate by 2010, thus bringing it to the level of the world's best standards. IATA developed the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). This is the industry's first internationally standardised safety audit for Airlines. Recently it gained US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval. By 2006, IOSA compliance will be a condition of IATA membership. To help airlines prepare for this, IATA is very involved in safety training programmes in the region.
b. Security: Harmonisation of international safety measures is an industry priority. IATA is calling on governments around the world, including Africa, to make greater efforts in this area.
c. Financial: Despite significantly stronger traffic, the current crisis in the price of fuel is a tremendous burden to the industry. Along with pursuing a more efficient operational environment to reduce fuel burn, IATA is working with airlines in areas such as training for fuel risk management and is exploring ways to assist airlines with financial structures to aid their fuel hedging operations.
d. Regulatory: As the global airline industry moves towards a more liberal and ever competitive environment, IATA is pushing governments to ensure that effective regulation of the industry's monopoly suppliers is in place. This is particularly important when essential infrastructure services such as airport and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) are privatised. To achieve cost reduction, IATA works closely with major airports and ANSPs. To date ASECNA, Kenya, Libya, Mauritius and South Africa have responded positively to IATA's call for cost reduction through greater efficiency.
e. Operations: IATA works with States to ensure the efficient development of air routes and operational procedures. IATA has achieved major efficiency gains with the introduction of an RNAV(GNSS) approach and departure programmes in Kenya and Southern Africa as well as route improvements for traffic between North Africa and the Middle East.

6. Simplifying the Business: To reduce costs industry-wide, IATA is working to leverage technology to make business processes more efficient with a programme known as Simplifying the Business. The highlight of this programme is a move to 100% electronic ticketing by 2007. IATA will work closely with its African members to ensure that the African industry is meets this target deadline.