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African airlines hold annual conference in West Africa amid aviation crisis

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By Chris Mburu | Nov 21, 2008

African airlines hold annual conference in West Africa amid aviation crisis

NAIROBI, Kenya (eTN) - Chief executive officers, chairmen, top managers and directors of African airlines and other aviation officials from the continent are due to converge for a major aviation conference in the West African nation of Burkina Faso later this month even as Africa’s air space remains under attack from multinational carriers from Europe and the Middle East.

The 40th Annual General Assembly (AGA) of the 41-member continental club, the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), will take place in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, from 23-25 November 2008. The Assembly, hosted by Air Burkina, will be held at the Ouaga2000 International Conference Center, AFRAA Secretary General, Mr. Christian Folly Kossi, said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

Besides its 41 members, AFRAA established a partnership program with the objective of forging closer working relationship with industry partners and service providers. The fifteen (15) partners that support the work of AFRAA are drawn from aircraft and engine manufacturers, aircraft leasing companies, ICT solution providers, aviation information technology companies and the media.

By freely providing data, addresses and networking sessions of the continents major aviation players, the AGA is a must-attend for global aviation companies looking to enter into the African market. Aviation suppliers led by Airbus and Boeing normally compete to host some of the major sessions at the conference. Last years meeting was held in Mauritius, Cairo (2006), South Africa (2005), Dakar (2004) and Tripoli (2003).

AFRAA commercial director Raphael Kuuchi said the theme for this year’s assembly is “Looking Beyond the Crisis,” a reflection of the reality of the airline industry today. “Driven by optimism however, the airline industry in Africa believes that today’s gloomy picture is not a reflection of the future of the industry. Airlines have always survived downturns (albeit with some casualties), and emerge more resilient,” he said.

With a head office in Nairobi, Kenya, the Association of 41 African airlines was established in the Ghanaian capital, Accra in 1968. Formed initially with the aim of providing a forum through which the young airlines of independent African States could meet, discuss and adapt common positions on global aviation issues and in particular matters pertaining to their membership of IATA, AFRAA now has an expanded role in the aviation industry in Africa.

But in the last decade, airlines have survived some of their worse times in the history of civil aviation – post 9/11, SARS, escalating oil price and lately the credit crunch. The recovery after each downturn is always phenomenal but just before airlines could benefit from the renewed momentum, another disaster strikes.

However, African airlines are certain that all these challenges shall pass and the industry will emerge better organized, more resourceful and determined to provide safe, reliable and efficient services to its customers profitably.

“Undeterred by the current crisis, the 40th AGA intends to focus attention on the untapped market potential of the continent, the opportunities offered by the fast growing African economies, the emerging middle class with high propensity to travel and the evolving liberalized environment that will facilitate easier market access and airlines’ closer collaboration. A look at the future will enable African airlines to address current weaknesses and mobilize the necessary resources in readiness for the boom ahead,” said Mr. Kuuchi.

This year’s AGA in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, will be characterized by panel discussions and presentations on the future role of technology in aviation, appropriate regional aircraft and aircraft financing, costs management including hedging, safety, security, the environment, liberalization and collaboration (airlines, aircraft manufacturers and other service providers). These sessions will be coordinated and led by renowned airline experts, academics and CEOs of some of the most successful aviation businesses in Africa and elsewhere.

The formal AGA sessions will be preceded by tours to some of the historical and cultural sites of Ouagadougou on Sunday 23rd November 2008. Besides, meetings will be interspersed with social and networking sessions that will accord participants the opportunity to discuss business and conclude deals. Some AFRAA partners and airlines will mount exhibition stands to showcase products and services that may be of interest to participants.

Among the dignitaries expected to grace the opening session of the assembly will include top government official from Burkina Faso, representatives of the African Union Commission (AU), Executive Secretaries of regional economic communities, and heads of ICAO regional offices, IATA, AFCAC, ACI-Africa, UNECA and ASECNA. There will also be CEOs, Managing Directors and Director Generals of airlines, civil aviation authorities and airport companies. AFRAA partners, aircraft manufacturers, aviation service providers, consultants and industry enthusiasts will be in attendance. The media (both print and electronic) will be there as well.

Participation is the AGA is free to all who wish to attend, however, delegates will be required to bear the cost of their air travel, ground transportation and hotel accommodation. It is recommended that all delegates make their hotel reservations directly with one of the hotels provided on AGA’s Web site at http://www.afraa.net/aga40



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