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Africa to lead debate in WTM 2012 Airline Programme

Africa to lead debate in WTM 2012 Airline Programme

Africa’s airline industry will be put under the spotlight at World Travel Market 2012, as part of a wider series of discussions among aviation chiefs over the industry’s future.

The airline events programme will start on Tuesday November 6th with the ‘Airline – Out of Africa’ session which will look at how the continent’s airlines are taking on international airlines to secure a slice of this growing market.

In the past many local airlines have complained that they are missing out on the increasing passenger numbers Africa is generating.

However, the emergence of strong African airlines is countering this issue, helped by the introduction of new generation aircraft such as Boeing’s 787 and the Airbus A350.

The session will focus on both the opportunities in Africa for air travel and tourism development but also the challenges it faces regarding infrastructure, regulation and the sheer problem of the distances flown in Africa.

The session will be chaired by John Strickland, who runs aviation consultancy JLS Consulting and has 30 years experience of the industry.

Before founding the consultancy he held senior positions in Caledonian, British Airways, KLM UK and Buzz and is now regularly called upon by the international media to comment on aviation issues.

He will be joined by Ethiopian Airlines chief operating officer Tewolde GebreMariam who, over a period of 27 years, has worked his way up through the airline.

During this time he has held many overseas positions, giving him a view on Africa’s airline industry from both the in and outside of the continent.

Also lending his expertise to the panel is FastJet chief executive Ed Winter who is running the low cost African carrier which has ten aircraft serving about 25 domestic and regional destinations.

Further strengthening the line up is Kenya Airways chief executive and group managing director Titus Naikuni who joined the airline in 2003 following an impressive career which includes serving as a permanent secretary to Kenya’s ministry of information, transport and communications.

The event is one of three focusing on the aviation sector with the second on Wednesday November 7th entitled ‘Airline – Setting the Scene: The Big Challenges’.

Chaired by Strickland again, the session will focus on the many tough issues the industry faces, from rising taxation and oil prices to weakening demand and airport capacity.

A core panel speaker will be Iberia director of corporate affairs Manuel López Colmenarejo who has spent most of his career at the airline.

He also boasts additional experience on the boards of several other companies, including Amadeus and was also president for Amadeus Spain.

He’s joined by Gatwick Airport chief Stuart Wingate, who has a long and distinguish career at airports having held the positions of managing director at Stansted Airport, chief executive of Budapest Airport and customer services director at Glasgow Airport.

The programme will be rounded off by the third session on Thursday November 8th entitled ‘Airline – The Big Talk’, a wide-ranging discussion looking at both the problems and potential to be found in the aviation industry.

Reed Travel Exhibitions director World Travel Market Simon Press said: “Aviation is such a core part of the travel industry that it is only right that we should put great effort into securing the best speakers to examine it.

“Africa is so exciting from the potential growth it offers to the industry and it is pleasing to see so many African airlines now gathering their strength and fighting for a share in this lucrative market.

“We are looking forward to a series of well-informed and thought-provoking discussions that will inevitably lead to some strong debate.”