Patrick Chitumba in Victoria Falls
THE European Union has been castigated by African airlines for being an impediment to the growth of the aviation industry on the continent through the controversial banning of some of the continent’s airlines. Speaking on the problems faced by the aviation industry in Africa, the secretary general of the African Airlines Association, Elijah Chingosho, said the EU had banned 140 airlines from Africa on controversial safety reasons.
He said the ban was more to do with giving EU airlines a commercial edge over African airlines.
“There are 140 airlines from Africa that have been banned by the European Union. These can’t fly to EU countries yet we have EU airlines flying into those areas where African airlines were banned. This is all to do with some controversial security measures,” said Chingosho.
“Other airlines which have been banned do not even exist but they are on the banned list and we tend to wonder how many countries are in Africa”.
Chingosho said if it was for safety reasons, they should follow International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) guidelines on safety and not some regional organisations.
“The EU should use audit reports from ICAO to enforce bans. There are other countries which are still on the ban list such as Gabon and Zambia so it is not transparent. We wish that there were programmes put in place for everyone to know the criteria used to ban airlines,” he said.
“This decision is affecting travel into Africa in general. People out there will say Africa is not a safe destination and not specific airlines. So, the EU is becoming a huge impediment to the growth of the aviation industry in Africa.”
Sylvain Bosc, chief commercial officer for South African Airways, who said has worked for top airlines in the EU, courted controversy when he tried to defend the ban of African airlines.
He said rather the airlines should work hard on getting ISO certification so that they were allowed back by the EU.
“The ban is mostly to do with security and safety of passengers and there should be no controversy associated with the ban because all airlines should be ISO certified,” said Bosc.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Karikoga Kaseke said there was a need to liberate the African Aviation sector for the success of African tourism industry.
He said a country like Singapore had successfully liberated its aviation industry – a development that had resulted in it becoming a $25-billion dollar economy.
“When you look at the tourism industry, we look at it from the aviation sector and also visa regimes. Tourism plays a role in economic development and African countries should liberate the aviation industry and the visa regime.
“We are suffocating our tourism sector, we need to relook at the issue of visas. I understand that they are necessary from a security point of view but it is important that we look at it from a tourism point of view. When you need fresh air open the windows,” Kaseke said.