A top African Union (AU) official urged the 55 AU member states to go over their aviation policies to revive the industry hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, during a recent webinar hosted by the union.
Amani Abou-Zeid, the AU commissioner for infrastructure and energy, also asked the member states to prepare emergency plans to minimize risks to the aviation sector, while also setting sustainability goals.
“Recovery of aviation is essential to rapid and sustainable recovery of Africa economies post-COVID-19,” Abou-Zeid said during the webinar, Sept. 30.
The event was aimed at exploring strategies to rebuild a safe, secure and competitive air transport sector in cooperation with AU partners, such as the World Bank.
The government officials and industry leaders discussed strategic approaches by the AU to support the aviation industry in African countries and help ensure public confidence in air travel.
Among the participants were World Bank Vice President for Infrastructure Makhtar Diop, South Africa’s Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan, African Airlines Association Secretary General Abderahmane Berthe and Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) former president Bernard Aliu.
“As countries begin to open their economies and assess the damage from the pandemic, our focus at the AU is to advise governments on best approaches for the air transport sector to bounce back and contribute to rapid recovery,” Abou-Zeid said.
She noted the pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented downturn in air transport activity, jeopardizing economies and livelihoods dependent on travel and tourism.
The airports in African countries overall are projected to suffer a combined revenue loss of $6 billion this year, with restrictions still remaining on aviation activities.
Under the circumstances, Abou-Zeid stated that the uncoordinated opening of aviation infrastructure without consistent quarantine measures would be impractical and unhelpful in terms of sustaining the jobs and welfare of employees in the aviation industry.
She shared the roadmap for recovery from the High Level Task Force (HLTF), jointly coordinated by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the African Civil Aviation Commission and the ICAO.
The taskforce, according to her, seeks to “recover and restart aviation economic activities meaningfully in a way that is beneficial to everyone on the demand or supply side.”
Aliu viewed the recovery of the aviation sector “will largely depend on regaining the confidence of passengers in the adequacy and efficacy of the new health measures implemented at airports and in national borders.”
“African aviation industry should not plan for a return to its pre-COVID past but rather chart a course to a profitable and sustainable future,” Aliu said.
The AU strives for pan-Africanism, an idea of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.
The union evolved from the Organization of African Unity, which was formed in May 1963.