AFRAA Secretary General – Mr Abdérahmane Berthé, had a consultative meeting on 08 April 2021 with the newly appointed IATA Regional Vice President for Africa & Middle East, Mr. Kamil H. Al-Awadhi following his recent assumption of office in March 2021. Accompanied by representatives of their respective teams AFRAA Secretary General and IATA RVP discussed key priorities for both associations’ collaborative support to the African airline industry.
Among the top priorities discussed were building blocks and actions for the restart of the air transport industry. AFRAA and IATA agreed to heighten advocacy for the next steps to release financial support to airlines that are in dire funding to avoid insolvency or bankruptcy in light of the severe impacts of covid-19 pandemic to the travel and tourism industry.
On health and safety protocols, the meeting underscored the “Saving Lives, Economies, and Livelihoods” campaign which calls to Action to African States to work towards harmonizing pre-entry and exit requirements for cross border travel, increase mutual recognition and cross-border information exchange. In particular, two recommendations of the campaign were reiterated:
- That States should consider alternative testing protocol for travel that uses the rapid diagnostic antigen test to situations where PCR testing is not readily available or where result turnaround time is long.
- That States should not impose COVID-19 vaccination certificates as a mandatory travel entry and exit requirement until there is satisfactory access to vaccines globally, reasonable vaccination coverage is attained, and sufficient evidence and guidance on the use of the vaccine for travel is available based on temporary recommendations of the 6th WHO IHR emergency committee.
Another concern related to the reopening of borders that was discussed was the high PCR test costs in Africa. It was noted that the PCR test cost ranges between US$50-150 across many African States. AFRAA and IATA’s position is for governments to reduce these high costs.
The meeting also reviewed the highlights of AFRAA and IATA annual plan of activities under the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that enhances the collaboration of the two Associations on a number of industry focus areas with the objective of delivering quality service to their mutual members and the industry as a whole in Africa. The main areas of collaboration between AFRAA and IATA include: industry restart actions, safety & security, advocacy, smart regulation, industry costs, environment, implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market, infrastructural development and capacity building.