Airline Chiefs Call for More Africa Air Routes

Airline Chiefs Call for More Africa Air Routes
Airline Chiefs Call for More Africa Air Routes
Written by Harry Johnson

Joint initiatives utilizing the destination knowledge of DMOs have the potential to enhance connectivity, which is crucial for the tourism economies of Africa that have been hindered by inadequate air transportation.

African continent’s extensive tourism potential is still not fully utilized because of the limited air connectivity, as Africa only represents 1.9% of global passenger and cargo traffic. Nevertheless, experts in the aviation industry are confident that national tourism boards can play a crucial role in stimulating economic growth by influencing the establishment of new airline routes.

During a recent AviaDev Africa workshop, in partnership with the SADC Business Council Tourism Alliance, airline executives emphasized the importance of tourism boards using market data and industry connections to persuade hesitant carriers of the long-term feasibility of new routes.

Kojo Bentum-Williams, UN Tourism’s Senior Africa Communications Expert, emphasized that tourism goes beyond mere leisure activities. He highlighted the significance of strategic planning and collaboration among different sectors for its success.

Sylvain Bosc, former Chief Commercial Officer of SAA and Fastjet, underlined the necessity of showcasing consistent profitability. He mentioned that Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) should focus on promoting a long-term vision that emphasizes the destination’s potential for growth and economic benefits. Bosc also suggested that innovative strategies such as co-marketing, cost reduction for airlines, and measuring passenger traffic can have a greater impact than direct financial subsidies.

Bosc emphasized the importance of DMOs in enhancing the data airlines already possess by shedding light on upcoming local economic developments such as new mines or infrastructure projects that could boost corporate traffic. He mentioned that local insights can give airlines the confidence to expand into new routes.

Natalia Rosa, Project Lead of the SADC Business Council Tourism Alliance, highlighted the crucial role of aviation in regional development, stating that it is not a luxury but rather the foundation of a modern regional economy. Enhanced air connectivity brings various advantages, including facilitating travel, accessing new tourism markets, and reinforcing regional economic connections.

Gavin Eccles, Head of Vertical at BAE Ventures, stressed the importance of tourism boards being actively involved in discussions, presenting strong arguments supported by local market knowledge, connections within the travel industry, and distinctive selling propositions that airlines may overlook. Eccles highlighted that tourism boards should not only present data but also provide a unique local viewpoint that airlines might lack. He referenced the case of India’s “Incredible India” campaign, which, despite its success in branding, faced challenges due to inadequate connectivity.

Tim Harris of Helm Growth Advisors warned that the priority should be on retaining and expanding existing airline services before focusing on attracting new routes. Regional coordination, such as aligned visa policies, joint itinerary promotion, and tapping conservation funds, can also play a role in financing route development.

Bentum-Williams highlighted that, despite concerns about the sustainability of direct subsidies, alternative incentives can establish a “culture of trust” for airlines prioritizing profit.

“It is essential to shift the focus from simply providing financial support for airlines to fostering an atmosphere of trust and assurance,” he stressed.

Jillian Blackbeard, the Chief Executive Officer of Africa’s Eden Tourism Association, emphasized the effective partnership with Proflight facilitated by local stakeholders and trade support, bolstering airline trust without substantial financial inducements.

“Our collaboration with Proflight and local stakeholders was instrumental in garnering trade and private sector backing for the routes, ultimately fostering trust in the airline and resulting in fruitful route expansion without the need for significant monetary incentives,” Blackbeard stated.

Joint initiatives utilizing the destination knowledge of DMOs have the potential to enhance connectivity, which is crucial for the tourism economies of Africa that have been hindered by inadequate air transportation.

About the author

Harry Johnson

Harry Johnson has been the assignment editor for eTurboNews for mroe than 20 years. He lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is originally from Europe. He enjoys writing and covering the news.

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