African GHI conference makes triumphant return

The 6th African GHI Stakeholders’ Conference opened on Tuesday with delegates eager to do business and network after a 4-year break.

By lunchtime, 130 delegates were through the doors at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town, South Africa to catch up with old contacts and make new ones.

The conference started with opening remarks from GHI’s Conference Chairman, Max Gosney, admitting that age-old challenges continue to dog Africa with low load factors and the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) making little progress.

There are reasons to be hopeful, he said, with revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) up 90% in Q1 of this year and almost 95 million passengers due to be carried across Africa’s skies by the end of the year.

Africa’s population is set to double by 2050 and air traffic is expected to grow to 250 million passengers in the next 15 years, which will require equipment and infrastructure.

Gosney told the audience: “I want to congratulate you, the trailblazers, for seeing the opportunity here in Africa early and getting behind it by supporting the conference.”

Markus Becker, Managing Director of Global Load Control, the conference’s platinum sponsor provided a keynote speech where he talked about the African market, admitting that for all of its potential, there are huge challenges.

Some markets have recovered strongly, with 60% more seats available in Nigeria compared to before the pandemic while his native South Africa has 27% fewer than 2019.

Becker believes there are 4 scenarios for future growth, the glide path where it is business as usual, a worst case scenario of integration efforts backtracking, pockets of growth or the best case scenario where the growth comes from home alongside standardisation and safety improvements.

Speaking in the middle of the afternoon, Gosney was very happy with how the industry had welcomed the conference with visitor numbers as high as the last conference held in Nairobi in 2019.

He said: “Africa really needs a forum like this one where people can talk with the right contacts in the right business environment and learn. We have had some really well attended conference sessions about the future of the market, the challenges around digitising skills, investment, breaking down monopolies and enthusing competition. We are honoured by the support the market has given us and will continue to provide a useful forum that we have here and will have it backed by the African aviation family.”

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