By Kenneth Ehigiator
AVIATION experts from Nigeria and across Africa are converging on the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, at the end of the month to fashion a way out of ongoing global financial meltdown for airlines on the continent.
Coming with the theme, â€œAir Transport in Africa: One Continent, One Strategy,â€ the annual conference is being organised by Nigeriaâ€™s Aviation and Allied Business magazine.
Publisher of the magazine and Chief Executive Officer of Overland Airways, Capt. Edward Boyo, told newsmen at a pre-conference briefing in Lagos weekend, said the session would highlight critical need to build continental support for aviation development on the continent, especially with regards to current global economic crisis.
â€œThis yearâ€™s conference, which promises to be one of the largest aviation gatherings in Africa with high impact, re-emphasises the need to harmonise aviation strategies to lift air transport in Africa above ongoing industry challenges and set the industry on a stronger footing for sustainable future growth.
â€œThe series of urgent crisis in the past one year have necessitated equally urgent streamlined responses from the air transport industry to reduce the severe impact of these challenges on the industry in Africa.
â€œThe credit crunch as well as health and safety challenges , among others, make it vital now to create a new lifeline for the aviation industry in Africa.Â This yearâ€™s conference will offer fast-track air transport growth in all parts of Africa,â€ Capt. Boyo said.
According to him, the parley will give particular attention to disturbing low passenger and traffic on the continent.Boyo said Aviation Minister, Mr. Babatunde Omotoba, would lead the Nigerian delegation to the conference, which is the 15th in the series.
He listed the chief executive officers of Virgin Nigeria Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, South African Express Airways, Etihad as some of the lead speakers at the conference, which would also feature the Director-General of Dakar-based French company, ASECNA, IATA Vice president and Managing Director of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
Others, according to him, include Ms Catherine Lang of U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Haile Belai of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Olivier Kobisch of plane maker, ATR of France, amongst others.
Listing the gains of past editions of the conference, Boyo said: â€œ The 14th edition of the leadership conference in Johannesburg 2008 brought the administrator of the US FAA to Africa for the first time to interact closely with government and private sector leaders and experts in air transport on enhanced co-operation between Africa and the U.S.
â€œSpecifically, the conference gave rise to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the United States FAA and the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) on safety collaborations.
â€œThe conference also created platform for the demonstration of Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) for the first time in Africa by the U.S. FAA ADS-B team.
The leadership conference has continued in providing the yearly platform for leaders of the industry to review the progress made in the development of the air transport industry and create situation-specific strategies for accelerated industry growth.â€
He said the conference had also given rise to series of intra-African bilateral agreements to further open up air services among countries on the continent.
Hosting of the conference is rotated among African countries annually.