IATA, the international airlines lobby is advocating for harmonized adoption across Africa of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Take-Off guidance for safe operations as the industry prepares for a new normal amid the COVID-19 crisis.
IATA says safely re-establishing the continent’s air connectivity is essential to re-building economies battered by the pandemic. The association is also asking African governments to take a leap of faith by accelerating the implementation of the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM) to further boost the post-COVID economic recovery.
“The top and immediate priority for aviation in Africa is implementing ICAO’s Take-off guidance. That is the key to removing the severe restrictions on movement that have grounded much of the continent’s air transport industry and severely impacted individual jobs and national economies. Planning for recovery from COVID-19’s economic destruction also presents an opportunity for governments to draw even greater benefits from aviation by opening African borders for African aviation. That transformation change could turbo-charge the recovery by strengthening economic ties and creating jobs in ways that only aviation can achieve,” said Muhammad Albakri, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East.
Safe Restart of Aviation
IATA further urges governments to adopt ICAO’s Take-Off guidance for a safe return of aviation to get the continent’s economies up and running. This includes adequate physical distancing, wearing face masks or coverings, enhanced sanitation and disinfection, health screening, contact tracing and the use of passenger health declaration forms.
As of 24th August, Rwanda and Kenya are the only African States that have fully met the ICAO Council’s Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) recommendations. Other African States like Ghana and Togo are more than 90 percent while The Gambia is at about 81percent. The implementation of global standards is critical in this crisis and essential to safely restore air connectivity as borders and economies re-open.
“This is a positive start, but we are far from restoring the economic catalyst that only aviation can provide. ICAO’s Take-off measures are the bedrock for ensuring safe operations and re-building passenger confidence. Africa’s governments need to make urgent implementation their top aviation priority,” said Albakri.
Thirty-four countries representing 75 percent of passenger traffic on the continent have signed up to SAATM but IATA observes that only ten states to have fully implemented SAATM protocols.
“With SAATM, Africa has a ready-made mechanism to add power to the economic recovery. And it faces a much slower recovery if it relies on hubs outside the continent to re-establish connectivity. Now is the time for the 34 governments that have committed to SAATM to actually implement. And the other governments should make plans to catch-up quickly
“Bold steps will be needed to restart aviation and economies. It is expected that the re-start of aviation will commence in domestic markets, then proceed to regional flying, direct long-haul and finally hub operations. Africa is at a significant disadvantage due to the severe limits on intra-Africa connectivity. It will miss out of the economic boost from regional connectivity. SAATM is the solution, but only a handful of states have implemented it,” said Albakri.