IATA calls for renewed focus on African aviation

IATA calls for renewed focus on African aviation

The International Air Transport Association has called on African governments to build stronger partnerships with industry to prioritise and promote aviation policies that will improve safety, develop a more competitive industry cost structure and advance liberalisation.

Aviation is a key driver of Africa’s economy.

Some 6.7 million African jobs and nearly $68 billion in African GDP are supported by air transport.

“The benefits of aviation connectivity go far beyond these figures. With a few kilometers of runway the most remote region can be connected to the global community.

“And that could mean access to vital sources of health care and emergency assistance; jobs selling products in global markets or welcoming tourists; or opportunities for education, exploring the world or creating business,” said Tony Tyler, IATA director general and chief executive.

Tyler’s comments were made at the opening of IATA Aviation Day Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


Safety continues to be the biggest challenge for African aviation.

In 2012 airlines averaged one hull loss for every five million flights on Western-built jet aircraft while the African average was one for every 270,000 flights.

However, there were no Western-built jet hull-losses among the 380+ airlines on the registry of the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), including 25 airlines in sub-Saharan Africa.

“World-class safety is possible in Africa. The safety record of African carriers on the IOSA registry tells us that the key to this is integrating the best safety practices of the industry as captured in the IOSA standards.

“IATA is committed and actively engaged in helping to enhance African aviation’s safety performance to reach worldwide levels based on the African Strategic Improvement Action Plan,” said Tyler.

IATA, the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and others cooperated to develop the African Strategic Improvement Action Plan, which is based on the following objectives:

  • Establishment of independent and sufficiently funded civil aviation authorities.
  • Implementation of effective and transparent safety oversight systems by all African States.
  • Completion of an IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) by all African carriers.
  • Implementation of accident prevention measures focused on runway safety and loss of control in-flight.
  • Implementation of Flight Data Analysis (FDA).
  • Implementation of Safety Management Systems (SMS) by all service providers.

These objectives garnered political support when they were incorporated in the Abuja declaration adopted by African Ministers for transport.

This commits African aviation stakeholders—government and industry—to achieve a safety performance on par with the global average by the end of 2015.

Early this year, it was endorsed by the African Union Summit—showing recognition of the importance of aviation safety at the very highest levels of government in the continent.

IATA is focusing its efforts on getting more airlines onto the IOSA registry.

“All of our members—including those in Africa—are already on the registry. But of course, safety is not only about IATA’s members or those of AFRAA.

“It is an industry issue,” said Tyler.

In addition to a series of IOSA familiarization workshops with regulators and airlines, IATA announced sponsored in-house IOSA training for ten African airlines

Tyler also reiterated IATA’s longstanding criticism of the European Union Air Safety List of banned airlines. 

“The European Union’s approach is wrong. It lacks transparency. And it does not improve safety” said Tyler.

There are no transparent criteria for removing airlines from the banned list.

“But, the overall safety improvements that we can expect from the commitment to mandate IOSA registration for all carriers will be a very strong argument for Europe to re-think its position,” added Tyler.