(Johannesburg) The International Air Transport Association (IATA) today announced a Four Point Agenda for the revitalization of African aviation based on (1) enhanced safety efforts, (2) infrastructure development, (3) liberalisation and (4) Simplifying the Business. IATA's Director General and CEO, Giovanni Bisignani announced the Agenda at a stakeholders' forum in Johannesburg as he concluded a four-day trip to Kenya and South Africa.

"The airline industry desperately needs change. We are a growing industry that is bleeding red ink. Airlines lost US$36 billion between 2001 and 2004. With the extra-ordinary price of oil, another US$7.4 billion will be added to industry losses in 2005, despite the tremendous progress on efficiency that airlines have made. While Africa's traffic is growing, the industry is far from healthy. Change is as urgent in Africa as it is in other parts of the industry. The IATA Four Point Agenda for Africa sets a clear path for airlines and governments," said Bisignani.

The Agenda

1. Safety

"Safety is our number one priority and the most urgent issue for Africa. Africa has made some progress on safety. Compared to a 10 year average of 10.84 hull losses per million sectors, in 2004 African carriers achieved a rate of 5.2. This is progress, but it is still 6.6 times worse than the global average. With only 4.5% of total traffic, 25% of total accidents occurred in Africa. Our industry is built on safety and Africa must do better," said Bisignani.

The IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) is at the first global benchmark for airline operational safety management and is at the core of IATA's efforts on safety. IOSA began in 2003 with standards built in cooperation with governments and ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation).

In light of the current European debate on airline blacklists, Bisignani urged African governments to take up ICAO's recommendation to make use of IOSA in safety oversight programmes and he challenged African airlines to speed up the auditing process. Only three African airlines are among the 140 airlines expected to be in the audit process by year-end.

Bisignani said that, "Blacklists are not an effective tool to improve airlines' safety. But they are a political reality that we must be prepared to deal with effectively. IATA is discussing IOSA among European regulators as a transparent benchmark. I challenge all of Africa's carriers—IATA members and non-members alike—to actively move towards IOSA. I encourage Africa's Governments to make good use of IOSA to enhance safety oversight."

To help African carriers meet IOSA standards, in June 2005 IATA launched Partnership for Safety with a US$3 million investment. The goal is to help airlines to identify and fill the gaps between IOSA standards and current practices. Bisignani said that, "African airlines are IATA's first priority in Partnership for Safety. Already we have conducted successful seminars for 19 African airlines and 6 civil aviation authorities as well as commencing individual assessments on 12 African carriers to pinpoint areas needing improvement. IOSA will raise the bar on safety globally and we are determined to bring these benefits to Africa."

2. Infrastructure

"Parts of Africa have well developed airport and air traffic management systems. But at many airports, runway pavement, airfield lighting, weather information, navigational aids, fencing, are not up to standard. It is not always clear that taxes and charges on air transport are re-invested in the industry. Moreover Governments are not making the strategic investments to support air transport and gain its economic benefits," said Bisignani.

Coordinated plans to develop efficient and reasonably priced infrastructure are essential if local economies are to get the full catalytic effect of efficient air links. "Africa needs leadership with the vision to carry forward projects to upgrade infrastructure. For example, the implementation of NAVISAT (an improved communications system from Cape Town to Cairo) and RVSM (Reduced Vertical Separation Minima) will have benefits for safety, fuel efficiency and quality of service. IATA is here to help, but governments must approach continental solutions with vision, leadership and speed," said Bisignani.

3. Liberalisation

"Liberalisation is a big part of industry change. Carriers need to be able to conduct their business like real businesses: to serve markets where they exist and to grow strong through competition," said Bisignani. "In 1988 the Yamoussoukro Declaration was visionary in its approach to regional liberalisation. I am disappointed that we are still discussing this in 2005. It is time for action and results," said Bisignani.

"IATA's approach is based on progressive liberalization. We are not calling for change overnight. Nor are we looking for excuses not to change. Airlines and governments around the world must prepare for a balanced progressive liberalization. Regional liberalisation, with achievable targets is a start. Governments must not be afraid to challenge their carriers. And carriers should meet these challenges head-on. Our common goal is the development of a commercially competitive air services industry in Africa," said Bisignani.

4. Simplifying the Business

Simplifying the Business was launched by IATA in 2003 to improve passenger convenience and cut costs by using technology more effectively. The programme has 5 core projects aimed at achieving US$6.5 billion in savings:

  1. 100% e-ticketing by the end of 2007,
  2. taking the paper out of freight processing,
  3. radio frequency identification for baggage management,
  4. bar coded boarding passes and
  5. common use of self service kiosks for check-in.

"E-ticketing is the most important because it has a deadline—2007. For many airlines the deadline may seem too soon. But for many others it is too late. To keep our global system working, IATA took the lead in bringing the industry to an achievable compromise date. Our job now is to bring all carriers successfully along in the process. Currently 33% of the 340 million IATA-issued tickets are e-tickets. By the end of 2005 we will be at 40%," said Bisignani.

"Much work needs to be done in Africa. Market penetration of e-ticketing in Africa is at 36.5%, but that statistic is misleading and cause for concern. South African Airways accounts for 70% of that total and Kenya Airways is moving fast. But there are 34 other carriers that have not started and we have a fast approaching deadline. IATA has allocated US$10 million for the e-ticketing project a substantial portion of which will go to carriers with limited skills or resources, particularly those in Africa. I am determined to keep African air transport in the global system," said Bisignani.

Achieving Results

"Everybody in Africa knows that change is needed. African carriers must move fast to meet the 2007 e-ticketing deadline. IOSA is a unique tool for governments and airlines to improve safety. IATA is working alongside Africa's airlines to achieve results fast in both these areas. At the same time, the industry must shout loudly to remind governments that aviation is a catalyst for economic growth and that we have a critical role in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Governments must develop policies and infrastructure that improve safety and facilitate growth. And they must move forward with progressive liberalization. This is our Four Point Agenda for Africa. With a clear common vision, commitment and action we can achieve great results for Africa," said Bisignani.