The International Air Transport Association’s ‘Focus Africa” drive is gaining momentum, spurred on by the African Civil Aviation Commission and the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) as its newest partners.

According to a statement by IATA, Focus Africa will strengthen aviation’s contribution to Africa’s economic and social development and improve connectivity, safety and reliability for passengers and shippers. It will see private and public stakeholders deliver measurable progress in six critical areas.

It lists the six areas as safety, infrastructure, connectivity, finance and distribution, sustainability and skills development.

IATA’s Director General, Willie Walsh, was quoted as saying, “Focus Africa is all about establishing a coalition of partners committing to pool their resources and delivering a set of African air transport solutions that let the continent, its people and economies play a greater, more meaningful and representative role in the global economy.

“The combined contributions of AFCAC and AASA will be critical to Focus Africa’s success. Africa accounts for 18 per cent of the global population but less than 3% of global GDP and just 2.1 per cent of air passenger and cargo transport activity. With the right interventions those gaps will be closed, and Africa will benefit from the connectivity, jobs and growth that aviation enables.”

AFCAC Secretary-General, Adefunke Adeyemi, was quoted as saying, “The ability to access, serve and develop intra-African markets is crucial as the continent’s populace is set to increase by over a billion people by 2050. For this to be sustainable, economic opportunities must be created. As other regions have demonstrated, air transport connectivity unlocks broad prosperity.

‘As the African Union’s civil aviation agency, we will support Focus Africa through our work developing a set of harmonized rules and regulations designed to make this connectivity a reality and drive our strategic objectives,”

Also, AASA CEO, Aaron Munetsi, was quoted to have said, ““Time is not on our side as AASA’s members and the communities they serve face rising costs, unprecedented unemployment, obsolete constraints on trade and market access, inadequate infrastructure and a looming skills shortage. These demands urgent action, so we do not get stranded on the runway. It is why we have no hesitation standing with IATA and other Focus Africa partners,”

Leaders and decision-makers from airlines, airports, air navigation services, government agencies, aircraft manufacturers, industry suppliers and other stakeholders will convene at the IATA Focus Africa Conference, hosted by Ethiopian Airlines, in Addis Ababa on 20-21 June, to address the six priority task areas in detail.

 Meanwhile, IATA has announced that ANA and WestJet have joined its Turbulence Aware Platform on the sidelines of the 79th IATA Annual General Meeting recently held in Istanbul, Turkey.

Turbulence Aware was launched in 2018 to help airlines mitigate the impact of turbulence, which is a leading cause of passenger and crew injuries and higher fuel costs each year.

The platform pools anonymised turbulence data from thousands of flights operated by participating airlines.

The real-time, accurate information enables pilots and dispatchers to choose optimal flight paths, avoiding turbulence and flying at optimum levels to maximize fuel efficiency and thereby reduce CO2 carbon emissions.

In another statement, IATA was quoted as saying, “The challenge of managing turbulence is expected to grow as climate change continues to impact weather patterns. This has implications for both safety and efficiency of flight. Turbulence Aware is a significant improvement in turbulence reporting and avoiding excess fuel consumption.”

Walsh added, “Accurate and timely data empowers crews to improve safety by avoiding turbulence. The more contributors we have, the more everyone benefits. The addition of ANA and WestJet enhances our coverage, especially in Asia Pacific and North America.”

At present, 20 airlines participate in the IATA Turbulence Aware Platform with more than 1,900 aircraft providing data daily. In 2022, a total of 31 million reports were generated.

ANA will initially start providing data from its Boeing 737 aircraft with plans to expand to the rest of the fleet in the future.

 WestJet is already capturing data from 24 aircraft and will expand this to 60 aircraft in the coming three years.

To gather additional feedback from airlines and engage with OEMs and other solution providers, IATA is organising a Turbulence Aware User Forum, taking place at the WestJet Campus in Calgary, Canada on June 19-20, 2023.

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