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Aviation professionals from around the world gathered in Rwanda this weekend to attend the African Airlines Association’s much anticipated 5th Aviation Stakeholders Convention. The theme of the convention was 'Winning Together through Innovation and Collaboration', aiming to spur the more than 400 delegates in attendance to work towards win-win business relationships in the region.
The move towards ‘Open Skies in Africa’ was one of the key points discussed by the 36 AFRAA member airlines and industry stakeholders. Rwanda is one of 23 African countries that supports ‘Open Skies in Africa’, which aims to reduce barriers in the African aviation space, including restrictive regulations, infrastructure challenges, high taxes and operation costs, safety, and visa restrictions. An IATA study has shown that such liberalisation efforts could have tremendous potential for Africa, with the additional services between just 12 key markets providing an extra 155,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in annual GDP.Another hot topic of discussion was
Agenda 2063, which is a "global strategy to optimize use of Africa's resources for the benefit of all Africans". Of particular interest were the specific agenda milestones, especially the lifting of visa restrictions for travel in Africa by December 2018.
Overall, the convention challenged industry stakeholders to promote growth and sustainable connectivity in Africa with innovative ideas, such as a joint African loyalty programme among the 'Big 5 African Airlines'. Likewise, regional governments were encouraged to form working groups to better grasp the challenges facing the aviation industry, without necessarily interfering with it.
Finally, the event showcased the culture of the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’ with a dynamic display of Rwandan dances during the evening social sessions, reminding all in attendance of Africa’s beauty and the key role the aviation industry holds in uplifting the continent.
I encourage you to have a look at our Fly Africa blog series, which features first hand stories about the experiences and strategies of our airline partners in Africa.