Frequent air travelers in Africa agree that the cost of airline tickets is very high.
On March 3, major aviation stakeholders in Africa met online to discuss issues contributing to the high cost of air travel and how to address these issues.
At a conference organized by the African Aviation Industry Group (AAIG) under the theme "Achieving Cheap Air Transport in Africa," industry experts said the high cost of air travel was due to a mix of issues including the cost of goods sold, the costs of middle processes, government tariffs, regulatory fees, purchasing time (buying tickets are usually cheaper), fuel costs, market demand and demand, and costs related to Indigenous Manufacturers Equipment.
They also noted their concerns about security and protection, poor interaction in Africa, market access and inadequate infrastructure as challenges facing the sector.
The Secretary General of the African Aviation Commission Tefera Mekonnen Tefera noted that the aviation industry was overburdened with tariffs and overburdened with higher fees and costs thus making air travel more expensive in many places. for Africa.
Mr Tefera added that, "In addition to air transport fees and government levies, airlines also pay more fees for airport equipment and services, aviation handling services, management and regulatory services and transport authorities. of aircraft (CAA).
“Airlines also face high cost of jet fuel; however, the fees and taxes levied so far have had a significant impact on airline ticket prices in Africa, ”he stressed.
The high cost of jet fuel
Participants in the conference complained that jet fuel was more expensive in Africa, even in oil-producing countries, than in Europe or the Middle East.
The situation has improved significantly in recent years, they acknowledged, although there is still a poor reputation for the security of African airlines compared to other areas due to issues such as aging aircraft, poor aircraft maintenance and poor aviation infrastructure.
The Director General of the Kenya Aviation Authority Gilbert Kibe said that the high cost of air travel had hampered local and foreign trade, commercial and recreational travel, which had reduced the competitiveness of African goods in the world market.
Mr Kibe noted that, "The lack of competition due to the monopoly of large airlines has resulted in fewer flights charging the same fees as traveling to Europe."
The COVID-19 catastrophe has worsened the situation of African airlines, as it is elsewhere in the world.
According to the International Aviation Organization, which supports air travel to international standards for aviation safety, security, efficiency and sustainability, the aviation industry in Africa lost up to $ 6 billion last year as a result of the epidemic.
The COVID-19 disaster exacerbated past aviation problems in Africa such as narrow connections between African nations, low passenger issues, poor infrastructure, high cost of transport within Africa, high financial guarantees.
In return, the airline industry has been putting in place measures to prevent and control COVID-19.
Funding African airlines
Over the past decade, Afreximbank has pledged more than $ 2.5 billion to fund African airlines and still has an ongoing fund of more than $ 200 million, says Oluranti Doherty, the bank's Director of Growth and Export.
Many airlines have reduced their activities with staff to deal with the effects of the epidemic, with the cost of testing COVID-19 seen as a new tariff for passengers.
Stakeholders in this sector say that the resumption and return should provide an opportunity for air travel in Africa to address the high cost of operating operations.
The CEO of Crabtree Capital, Dublin-based air travel consulting company, Mark Tierney, says that, "If we are serious about making air travel affordable for many to boost the economy and development, there is a way. There are only two things to do: subsidize or reduce costs. ”
Subsidies do not exist, so reducing costs is the only way left. For this to happen, Mr Tierney says there is a need to end the fragmentation of Africa's small aviation market and instead accelerate economic growth.
He noted that the industry needs specialized equipment for sustainability guidance and best practices that the aviation industry can implement.
Another solution to reducing air fares could be government intervention through subsidies, protection, involvement in the value-added system especially the preferential purchase of essential equipment and ownership of essential infrastructure and the provision of essential economic protections.
An official statement issued after the meeting said, "Appropriate measures need to be taken by the aviation industry to enhance the efficiency of airlines. This has the potential to reduce costs so that the aviation industry can be reached and affordable in a wider number. of travelers across Africa."