Chinedu Eze in Cape Town, South Africaâ€¨
The Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Tony Tyler, predicted monday that the high rate of air crashes in Africa would significantly reduce by 2015 as every airline operating on the continent would be required to pass IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), which stipulates stringent safety conditions for its members.
Tyler made this known in Cape Town, South Africa at the on going 69th Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Symposium (WATS) expressed regret that air accidents in Africa was 18 times worse than the global average, adding that in 2012 when Dana Air crashed and killed about 160 people in Nigeria, there was no major air crashes among the 240 member airlines or among the 387 airlines on the IATA Operational Audit registry.
The IATA boss recalled that shortly after the Dana Air flight 0992 crash last year, ministers of air transport in Africa met in Nigeria’s capital, where they made the Abuja Declaration, which stated that by 2015 all airlines operating in the continent must have IOSA certification.
“Geographically, the biggest challenge is Africa where the accident rate is 18 times worse than the global average. But the safety performance of Africa airlines on the IOSA registry, including our African members, aligns with the global average.
“This means that world class safety is possible in Africa. With the Abuja Declaration, African governments have committed to achieve world class levels by the end of 2015. By then IOSA will be required across the continent. As partners, we are engaging African airlines directly to meet IOSA’s over 900 standards and join the registry,” Tyler said.
Tyler also criticised the European Union (EU) for its ban on most African airlines because of its emission regulations, saying the ban had not helped Africa. He further advised EU to reconsider its policy now that Africa airlines would submit to the stringent safety conditions of IOSA.
South Africa’s Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe, said in a speech at the event, that aviation was important to Africa because the continent offered the most viable growth for global aviation, which cannot be realised if governments in Africa did not play their roles well.
He said one of the ways by which Africa hopes to overcome the challenge of capacity development in air transport is to attract more young people into aviation, remarking that in 2012 South Africa attracted 9.2 million international travellers in spite of the problems bedevilling air transport in the continent.
Motlanthe said air transport in Africa was dogged by poor inter connectivity, advising that governments of the countries in the region must be ready, able and willing to take the decisions that will be able to drive the process of growth “because there is every reason to believe that aviation in South Africa and in the whole of Africa will continue to grow. But government must take action in the area of policy direction, operational efficiency, safety and transparency.”
Also the South Africa Minister of Transport, Benedict Martins regretted that Africa had failed to adopt the Yamoussoukro Declaration (YD) in practice which is aimed to enhance inter connectivity on the continent, noting that although YD was ratified by the ministers of states but the policy has not been adopted by individual countries in their operation. He added that the implementation of the decision was also hampered by poor infrastructure, uneven development, higher user charges, limited capacity and poor safety record.