Africa has been asked to review the “complex” structure of its taxes and fees imposed by service providers to enable airlines in the continent exploit the existing growth potential.
It is believed that the duties in Africa are relatively higher in comparison to other regions and particularly when seen in light of the level of infrastructure and services available.
For instance, it is estimated that it costs 18.5 US cents per Revenue Passenger Kilometres (RPK) to travel in Africa as compared to 15.5 US cents in Asia, 12.3 cents in Europe and 11.0 cents in North America.
RPK is a measure of passenger’s sales volume, which can be obtained by multiplying the number of revenue passengers carried on a flight by the distance traveled by each passenger.
Industry leaders who concluded their 43rd Annual General Assembly and conference in Southern Morocco last week heard that the “excessive” charges imposed on the airlines operating in the continent and their passengers, with experts saying this has impeded airlines from realising their full potential.
The Airlines Association (Afraa), Secretary General of African Elijah Chingosho noted that cost of travel from Africa is still very high compared to other regions of the world.
He said high intra-Africa and intercontinental airfares are mainly attributed to high airport taxes and fees coupled with high fuel, insurance, aircraft financing and leasing charges experienced in the region.
“This is stifling development of air transport and compounding the many difficulties that African airlines have to surmount to be competitive and profitable,” he said.
He said that the impact of high charges should be examined in light of Africa’s huge potential for growth of air transport, which by all indications is becoming one of the fastest growing regions in terms of air traffic.
Opening the three-day General Assembly on behalf of the Minister of Transport of the Kingdom of Morocco, the Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Kingdom of Morocco, Abdennebi Manar, challenged African airlines to open up their markets and brace themselves for competition.
He called upon industry stakeholders in Africa to work together and seek partnerships with each other to broaden their network as well so as to mop up traffic to compete with operators from other regions.
During the meeting the Chief Executive Officer of Air Mali Mr Abderahmane BerthÈ was elected President of Association and host of the 2012 Afraa Annual General Assembly.
Welcoming delegates to the meeting, the President of AFRAA and Chairman of Royal Air Maroc, Driss Benhima, noted that air transport liberalisation is good for the continent but cautioned it can pose serious survival challenges to local airlines ill-prepared to compete in a liberalised market. He said Morocco last year attained its target of 10 million tourist arrivals due largely to the open skies agreement with the EU.