On days two and three of the continental gathering of aviation regulatory bodies and stakeholders under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), more relevant topics were discussed in the plenary sessions.
Data capture, processing and interpretation were high on the agenda, as the global body of course depends on reliable data and correct compilation to provide in turn updated statistics to the member states.
Other matters discussed were aviation surveys, studies into the financial situation of airports and regulatory authorities and air navigation services, before turning the attention once again to ICAO manuals, economic performance, correct accounting and the reporting requirements for the regulators.
Former UCAA director Air Transport and Regulatory Services, Mr. Kabbs Twijuke, continued as session chair, now incidentally being Uganda’s representative to ICAO in Montreal and also a member of the ICAO Council, looking after the specific interests of a number of African countries.
Discussions and topics raised from the floor, remained articulate and in spite of the often contentious issues at hand, friendly in its undertones, with competent simultaneous translations between French and English presentations helping to avoid gaffes like recently seen with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was fed a wrong translation which then set her off with a sharpish reply.
Some speakers from the regulators complained about airlines not providing sufficient and regular enough information and data to them, only to be rebuked when it became known that of the 63 states in the two respective regions from which participation in the symposium was drawn, only eight states had submitted to ICAO regular air navigation statistics while only 13 African airports were providing regular operations data. This caused some amusement in the audience, in particular when one regulatory staff then in turn complained about complicated formats and templates for reporting and asked ICAO for “facilitation of training.”
More amusement was caused when the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) representative pointed out that airports should provide sufficient seating capacity in their arrival, departure and transit lounges instead of putting up “potted plants.”
The participants were also given an overview of the performance of Eurocontrol to allow them to judge their own challenges in Africa and to seek closer cooperation to deal with an integrated management of the upper airways in coming years.
ASECNA, too, presented a paper for discussion, being the agency for air navigation across Africa, elaborating on collection of fees and their methods of determining how much to charge for overflight services. This was followed by presentations of first AFRAA, the Association of African Airlines and then International Air Transport Association, the global body for airlines.
Finally, also discussed were financing of infrastructure with special emphasis on the current global financial and economic crisis, which raised the thresholds for many African countries to secure finance for airport and related infrastructural expansion and modernization.
Most important for the consumers, ICAO in a presentation dedicated to the “cost of flying” made a range of observations and recommendations to contain the “add on charges” to the fares airlines charge, which in some cases exceed the cost of the ticket, hampering the development and wider use of air transport by the “wananchi, “the Kiswahili word for “people of the region.”
The conference outcomes, results and recommendations will be posted shortly by ICAO on its website to permit interested readers access to the material presented and the input made by the participants. Visit www.icao.int
About 200 aviation stakeholders had registered for the Kampala symposium but owing to the Kenya Airways strike about 30 participants did not manage to arrive in time and had to abandon their travel plans, while others through sheer determination at least arrived on the second day to join their colleagues and sample some of our traditional Ugandan hospitality.
There will be another African aviation meeting in Nairobi next week, bringing together AFRAA and ICAO to discuss specifically aviation statistics, already a topic in Kampala but clearly an area that requires extra attention. It is understood that private sector stakeholders in the aviation industry will be allowed to attend those proceedings as well.