African aviation leaders call for a coordinated Industry restart

South African Airways – Vytautas Kielaitis/Shutterstock

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), Airports Council International – Africa (ACI Africa) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Regional Offices for African States have united in their call to governments in the African market to swiftly carry out the ICAO’s global guidelines on restoring air connectivity to ensure a safe and coordinated restart of aviation in the region. As published by IATA, these guidelines are contained in ‘Takeoff: Guidance for Air Travel through the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis’, which was approved by the ICAO Council. They have also been adopted into the African Union’s Restart and Recovery Strategies during and after COVID-19 for the African Aviation Sector.

Comments from Industry leaders in the sector addressed the framework within the guidelines and urged governments in the sector to now come together and harmonically step toward the sector‘s restart.

Mr. Barry Kashambo, Regional Director, ESAF speaking on behalf of the ICAO Regional Offices accredited to African States, commented on the ICAO‘s guidelines saying, “Developed based on the latest medical evidence and consistent with health best practices the ICAO Take-off guidance provides governments with a framework for restarting aviation while protecting public health. Governments in Africa are encouraged to implement the guidance urgently and in a harmonized and mutually recognized way to allow aviation to safely start contributing to Africa’s economic recovery post-COVID-19. Air connectivity is critical to economic and sustainable development in and across the continent.”

IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, Muhammad Albakri expressed his view mentioning that “The ICAO’s Take-off guidance is a global way forward for aviation. Implementation should give governments the confidence to open borders without quarantine, and passengers the confidence to fly. But guidelines mean nothing if they are not implemented. And that is our main message to governments in Africa. Deviations from the guidance and mandatory approaches, especially on quarantine and social distancing, will damage public confidence, make it harder to operate effectively, slow down the industry restart and increase the economic pressures already created by COVID-19. This would be harmful to public health and the economic recovery,”

Lastly, ACI Africa‘s Secretary General, Ali Tounsi heavily reiterated that “Safety and security remain the industry’s main priority, and both are firmly entrenched into every airport’s operations and corporate culture. Building on this track record, the ICAO Take-off guidance is fully aligned with our industry’s focus on passenger and staff wellbeing. We, therefore, urge African States to urgently adopt these guidelines so that we can ensure the implementation of consistent, harmonized and effective measures across the region, a prerequisite for passengers to return to air travel in all confidence, and for the swift restoration of air connectivity for the sustainable recovery of the travel, business and tourism sectors on the continent.”

IATA, ACI Africa and ICAO strongly believe that all stakeholders in the aviation ecosystem will play a key role in working towards the swift, efficient, harmonized and sustainable recovery of the African aviation sector.

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