‘Lack of cooperation, collaboration, bane of African airlines’

Airline business on the African continent has been compared to a sick child in an intensive care unit needing an urgent rescue.

This was the position of stakeholders who gathered to rub minds on the need for the African airlines to take their solid position in the African market share.

Speaking at the recent African Aviation MRO African conference organised by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), African Aviation Services Limited and also Chairman, African Business Aviation Association (AfBAA), Mr Nick Fadugba, which took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the different expert groups across the African continent, who attended the three days conference, lamented how airlines in Africa were lagging behind in the scheme of things.

Among those who spoke on the failure of the African carriers was the Chief Operating Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde Gebremariam, who raised the fear that if African airlines failed to urgently come together with the support of the various African governments  airline business on the continent may soon go into extinction thus, paving the way for foreign airlines dominance.

Citing how the African airlines in the past used to control 60 per cent market shares of the passengers traffic on the continent, hepointed out that the 60 per cent market share has drastically dropped to less than 20 per cent, may even drop to zero percent, leaving the whole market shares in the hands of  foreign airlines.

While identifying reasons responsible for the unimpressive performance of African airlines, majority of participants at the conference, which touched on key areas that would help airline business and aviation on the continent meet their targets, mentioned how the lack of cooperation and collaboration among airlines in Africa are greatly responsible for their below the ladder performance.

The lack of cooperation and collaboration amongst the African airlines, the participants said, have continued to deny African citizens seamless travel across the continent as many still need to travel through Europe or America to connect flights to fellow African countries.

Another negative effect of the lack of synergy amongst airlines on the continent, which has made connectivity difficult, is the lack of trust and over-protectionism on the part of the African leaders.

According to the Ethiopian Airlines CEO “We (African Airlines) need to change this attitude. There is nothing we can achieve alone unless we work together. Market shares are now controlled by foreign airlines. Before African carriers used to control up to 60 percent markets shares but today, we have declined to 20 percent. We believe the market share should be 50/50 between African airlines and the foreign carriers but we need cooperation and collaboration to achieve this.”

Lending their voices to why Africa airlines and their government should cooperate now to avoid regrets tomorrow in view of the speed at which foreign carriers are taking over air transport on the continent, participants cited how Qatar Airways from the Middle East has already a very big shares in RwandaAir which will allow the non African carrier to further spread its wings on the continent.

Participants also lamented how the foreign airlines have cornered eight out of the ten most lucrative routes across Africa leaving only two for the African airlines.