Infrastructure decay, high taxes, others retard aviation in Africa- Qatar Airways VP

  • Gives conditions for partnership with Nigerian carriers

 

Qatar Airways has urged African countries, including Nigeria, to focus on the development of their airports to ensure aviation safety and partnerships with local carriers. In an exclusive interview with Aviation Metric, the Vice President (Africa), Hendrik du Preez, decried the high cost of operations in many countries of Africa.

He cited high tax rates and decrepit infrastructure in many African airports. Du Preez said: “It is true that there is an infrastructure challenge in Africa. You have seen many countries that have built new airports, renovated new terminals to enable more airlines to operate. I think close cooperation between government and airlines is crucial to enable business to thrive”.

“Aviation is an economic enabler just by enabling trade, enabling business; that in itself drives economies. Safety is another key area that needs to be looked at that gives a lot of concerns globally about the safety of air travel in Africa and it is putting those concerns at  risk by relevant regulatory authorities looking at the safety of operations, development of infrastructure.”

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Qatar Airways’ Vice-President Africa, Hendrik du Preez,

According to him, governments need to look into the problems as the imposition of taxes directly affects travellers. “That sums it up. It is so expensive to operate to some destinations that it becomes unaffordable for travellers at the end of the day. I think it is a multitude of those things combined that would enhance or mar aviation in Africa,” he added.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) had identified weak and costly infrastructure, high ticket prices, poor intra-African connectivity, and proliferation of taxes and charges as factors retarding the growth of air transport in Africa.

The clearinghouse also said there was evidence that aviation in Africa had the potential to fuel trade and economic growth, but for the barriers.

Speaking on the carrier’s route expansion in Nigeria and the 16 new destinations in Africa during COVID- 19, Du Preez said Kano and Port Harcourt would be the 7th and 8th destinations they launched during this pandemic. He said: “We want to see Africa as our own, making it more accessible to people and I think that is our strategy for Nigeria.

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The traffic flows from the two of them are different. I think Port Harcourt; it supports our network because a lot of energy companies that are operating down there are starting quickly ramping up the business and connecting to our network of 140 destinations.”

Recall that Nigeria’s Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) with Qatar got expanded last month as the Gulf carrier announced its new services to Kano and Port Harcourt aside from the two daily flights to Lagos, doubling its network to Nigeria

There are different segments of people travelling. If you look at the need for people travelling from Kano, it is different from people travelling out of Port Harcourt.

Starting in less than two months, they’ll route via Abuja, with the Nigerian capital rising to once-daily.

 This is coming amid criticisms from aviation stakeholders who view the situation of flight rights to foreign carriers on multiple destinations as rather injurious to the domestic aviation market and one that put Nigerian airlines at a great disadvantage.

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 He stated that the carrier would not hesitate to partner with Nigerian airlines on the local market if they find airlines that have the same vision as Qatar Airways in areas of schedule integrity, safety, and security.

Qatar Airways aircraft

 He highlighted that the airline has partnerships with over 20 African airlines while seeking more opportunities to go into more partnerships.

 “In all the markets that we are in, we cooperate with the domestic airlines that we have both seen the benefits at the end of the day. There are many aerodromes and airports in Nigeria that we won’t fly into, we can feed on the rest of our network unto the domestic carriers than can feed unto the network and even regionally. There are quite a bit of un-served opportunities in the region if you are looking at the neighbouring countries to Nigeria. Even if there are these opportunities,

Wole Shadare