[dropcap]T[/dropcap]wenty-seven leading airlines grouped under the African Airlines Association are meeting in Mauritius from the 12th to 14th of May, in a Symposium that is aimed at building sustainable networks, fostering knowledge exchange and creating of a competitive business landscape.
In light of the Single African Air Transport Market picking momentum, industry experts indicate that it is set to improve flexibility for airline operations, liberalize regulations, enable the harmonization of standards and enhance marketing opportunities for airlines to meet future demand, which is projected to double in the next 20 years.
According to a statement issued by AFRAA’s 8th Aviation Stakeholders’ Convention, these arrangements also benefit the traveler by generating gains such as reductions in travel time and improvement of service predictability and reliability.
The Aviation industry is a capital-intensive sector. The enormous range of expensive equipment and facilities, from airplanes to flight simulators and maintenance hangar makes this business a costly affair requiring large sums to operate efficiently and make a profit.
More concerning in the case of Africa is the high cost of operation which is among the highest due to excessive taxes and charges levied on airlines and passengers making African airlines less competitive compared to their foreign counterparts.
One great aspect of collaboration within the industry is code sharing which forms the basis of most partnerships and permits airlines to sell seats on partners’ flights as if these flights were their own.
Airlines use code-sharing agreements for different reasons, such as indirect entry into markets where costs and regulatory barriers would make direct entry impossible, the expansion of networks, and an increase in service quality.
Other advantages include the ability for airlines to reduce costs by coordinating flight schedules and sharing airport lounges, ground handling, check-in, maintenance, marketing and sales efforts, just to name a few.
Given the proven linkages of the Air Transport industry to other key sectors such as tourism and trade, the potential benefits of these partnerships are all the more significant, and should be prioritized by all relevant stakeholders.
In a capital-intensive business like the Aviation sector with its complex challenges – fostering greater strategic collaboration between and among African aviation stakeholders from airlines, manufacturers and government will be a critical driver of innovation, growth and social impact.
Alliances offer significant scale to their members. The Star Alliance, for instance, consists of 27 member airlines serving more than 1,330 airports in 192 countries, while the SkyTeam alliance brings together 19 carriers from five continents with a cargo alliance operation which includes ten carriers. The third-largest global alliance, One world serves about 1,000 airports in more than 158 countries.