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IATA calls on Gov’t to clear blocked airline funds

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The global trade association of airlines, International Air Transport Association (IATA), commends the strong recovery of Ethiopian airlines from the COVID-19 crisis which has been integral in enhancing regional connectivity in continent. The association also called on the government of Ethiopia to act swiftly to clear the 95 million dollars in airline funds blocked from repatriation to ensure the country’s connectivity.
IATA which held a two day ‘Focus Africa’ conference in Addis Ababa on June 21-22 saw the conference bringing together airline CEOs along with aviation leaders, decision makers and influencers from Africa, the Middle East and the globe, who converged to collaboratively drive the advancement of aviation in Africa.
The conference focused on six priorities including: strengthening aviation’s contribution to the continent’s economic and social development, improving connectivity, safety and reliability for passengers and shippers.
As indicated at the meeting, Ethiopian airline’s regional connectivity in the continent stood at 113% of pre-crisis levels. According to IATA’s Connectivity Index and Passenger traffic originating from Ethiopia tracked at 19% above pre-crisis levels in the first quarter of 2023.
“Ethiopia’s aviation industry is set to triple by 2040, with an average 6% growth in passenger traffic over the next 17 years,” said Willy Walsh, General Director of the IATA.
“Ethiopian Airlines is performing very well. Our current performance, in all parameters, indicates that our success will continue strong. We have recovered well from the impacts of the pandemic. By the end of this fiscal year, we expect to generate USD6.1 billion, this is a 20% growth compared to our last year’s performance. We will be transporting 13.7 million passengers which is also a 55% increase from same period last year,” said Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO, MesfinTasew

(Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

“While our operations and milestones continue to be persistent, we still have challenges regarding expatriating our accumulated funds in various countries,
Mesfin stated indicating that the airline is suffering with stranded blocked funds in several countries at over USD180 million.
In complement, IATA’s General Director also called upon the government of Ethiopia to clear airline’s blocked funds stating, “The low allocation of USD to the aviation industry by the Ethiopian Government and Central Bank means that $95 million in airline funds are blocked in the country. It’s time for the government to work with the industry to resolve this situation quickly.”
At the conference, many strongly argued that the implementation of a single African air transport market will be key to unlocking travel within the continent fostering the growth of sustainable aviation fuel /SAF/.
IATA demanded the Ethiopian government to explore developing and incentivizing SAF production as the country has the potential to become one of the biggest SAF producers with unique feed stocks, vast land area, and significant solar potential providing opportunities for both biomass feed stocks and renewable non-biomass feed stocks like solar and wind power-to-liquid (PtL) solutions.
“The Ethiopian government is uniquely positioned to stimulate SAF production, a move that would not only support the forecast surge in air travel but also trigger substantial job creation and boost the local economy. Ethiopia has the opportunity to take the lead, and in doing so, construct an aviation future that is as sustainable as it is successful,” said Walsh.
IATA has also launched the Collaborative Aviation Safety Improvement Program (CASIP) to reduce the accident and serious incident rate across Africa as part of the Focus Africa initiative.
Launch partners in the program are said to be: The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), The African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Boeing, and the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA).
Together, the CASIP partners will prioritize the most pressing safety concerns on the continent and rally the resources needed to address them. The benefits of improving aviation safety in Africa will be spread across the economies and societies of the continent.
“CASIP will make it clear to governments across the continent that aviation must be prioritized as an integral part of national development strategies. With such broad benefits at stake, we hope that other parties will be encouraged to join the CASIP effort,” IATA’s Director General stated.
Over the next 15 years, African passengers’ traffic is expected to double with the greatest potential and opportunity. However, infrastructure constraints, high cost, lack of connectivity, regulatory impediments, slow adoption of global standards and skill shortage are some limitation hindering the growth of the sector in the continent.

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