Time for Africa?

ony Tyler (left), CEO of International Air Transport Association (IATA), Tewolde Gebremariam (centre), CEO of Ethiopian Airlines and Getachew Mengistu (right), state minister for Transport (Photo: AddisFortune.com)
Tony Tyler (left), CEO of International Air Transport Association (IATA), Tewolde Gebremariam (centre), CEO of Ethiopian Airlines and Getachew Mengistu (right), state minister for Transport (Photo: AddisFortune.com)

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - It was with Latin star, Shakira’s pop tune, ‘It’s time for Africa’ that Tewolde Gebremariam (centre), CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, chose to preface his glowing presentation of Africa’s and Ethiopia’s growing presence in the aviation industry, at the celebration of the African Aviation Day, held on Tuesday, April 16, 2013, at Hilton Addis.

The CEO outlined gains made both within the African and Ethiopian airline industries, including the national carrier’s Vision 2025, which envisions the airline growing into an aviation group. But the industry is not without its problems. Heavy taxes, closed markets and fuel costs, act as hindrances, he stated. These obstacles were also what Tony Tyler , CEO of International Air Transport Association (IATA), chose to focus on. Presenting much more sober data, he stated that since 2003, the aviation market was hardly breaking even, making it a ‘tough business’. Globally, net profit margin will only be 1.6pc of the 675 billion dollars mobilised in 2013, whereas in Africa, where the industry is expected to mobilise 100 million dollars in gross profits; only a one percent profit margin is expected.

Heavy fuel uplift taxes, including in Ethiopia, and closed markets challenge industrial development in Africa and hence, the need for attention from policy makers, Tony, stressed. Among the policy makers listening were Getachew Mengistu, state minister for Transport, and officials from the African Union (AU) that work on infrastructure and energy.

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