African airline chiefs meet in Maputo


NAIROBI, Kenya (eTN) – Top leaders of the African aviation industry gathered in Mozambique for three days beginning last Sunday to discuss strategies for African airlines that are besieged by foreign competitors.

The 41st Annual General Assembly of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) is taking place from November 22 to 24, 2009 at the Joaquim Chissano International Conference Centre, Maputo, said AFRAA secretary general Christian Folly-Kossi.

Global aircraft manufacturers, engine, spare parts and aviation sector IT suppliers led by Airbus, Boeing and Embraer are expected to make presentations. “Chief executive officers of African airlines, senior officials representing civil aviation and airport authorities, regional and international aviation organizations and regional economic communities will gather for conference,” said Mr. Folly-Kossi.

Mr. Raphael Kuuchi, the commercial director at AFRAA, said about 150 delegates had registered for conference by November 18, with more expected to do so by weekend. “Most local delegates from Southern Africa will register just before the conference starts. We expect more than 200 people,” Mr. Kuuchi said.

Lam Mozambique, the national carrier of Mozambique, is the host airline for the conference. Among the sponsors of the meeting are Airbus, Boeing, Embraer and Galileo Mozambique.

This year’s theme, “Succeeding in Challenging Times,” is a reflection of both the opportunities and the challenges the current economic environment has to offer.

“AFRAA believes that the current challenges will be tough to surmount especially for the unprepared and slow to adjust but, hidden in these challenges are enormous opportunities that can turn the fortunes of any operator around and robustly position it on the path of success,” Mr. Folly-Kossi said.

The conference is a rare opportunity for airlines and aviation
stakeholders to discuss and formulate strategies aimed at rightly positioning African aviation ahead of the competition, he added.
This year’s assembly is being held at a time when the African skies are under pressure from multinational carriers from Europe, Middle East, and, increasingly, from the United States and China.

Among the new entrants are Delta Airlines of the US and China Southern. United Airlines of the US recently announced that it will launch new flights to the African cities of Accra and Lagos beginning March 2010.
Established in April, 1968 in Accra, Ghana as a trade organization open to membership of airlines of African states, AFRAA currently has 41 members from African Union member states.

It aims at promoting the development of safe, reliable, economical and efficient air transport services to, from, within and through Africa and to study problems connected therein.