The fourth Aviators Africa Conference and Tower Awards held recently in Johannesburg, South Africa ended on a successful note with participants from the aviation trade across Africa underlining the challenges and prospects of the industry while charging the government and operators to do more for the business. With the theme; Sustainability in African Aviation, participants stressed among others the need to reset the African aviation industry with a view to harnessing the benefits of sustainable energy and technology-driven operations, so as to be more competitive and attract more investors and growth to the continent.
The three days gathering, which held at the Protea Hotel by Marriott Johannesburg Wanderers, also had an outreach programme in partnership with the Girl Fly Programme Africa (GFPA) Foundation, Walk for Love Africa and South African Tourism. The day two of the conference began with an expository keynote address by Aaron Munesti, the Chief Executive Officer of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA), as he highlighted the imperative and the urgency of resetting the African aviation industry post COVID-19 rather than restarting it. Welcoming delegates to the event, the Founder and the CEO of Aviators Africa Conference and Tower Awards, Toni Ukachukwu, noted that the conference’s core mandate was to carve a niche and continue to pioneer sustainability initiatives in the African aviation eco-system connecting with tourism.
“I would like to welcome everyone to the fourth Aviators Africa Conference with the theme: Sustainability in African Aviation. This year saw us being true to our objective as a pan-African organisation by bringing the event to South Africa, having hosted it in Nigeria for three straight years.”
Ukachukwu said. Furthermore; “We intend to look at sustainability in the broader sense of the word covering diverse areas with inclusivity from the stakeholders and academia to explore not only aviation but its allied industries for a more sustainability development of Africa.” The conference featured three engaging and insightful panel sessions, all of which x-rayed the various challenges bedevilling the aviation and tourism trade in Africa, recommended recovery paths.
The first panel, which was moderated by Derek Nseko, took a look at Assets Finance and Airline Sustainability in Africa. The panelists who included Sean Mendis, an airline executive and Monica Rubombora, Uganda Airlines Country Director for South Africa, critically appraised airline operations in Africa with respect to access to credit facilities, funding and sustainability. Moderated by Sean Mendis, the second panel discussed Sustainability in African Aviation, with the panelist featuring Akie Chhabra, Embraer Sales Director for Africa, Yvonne Winter, Co-Founder, Fly Now and James O’Shea, CEO of Seefin Aviation, focusing on how the present and future technologies helping the global aviation industry to achieve green approach to zero CO2. The third panel featuring some hospitality and tourism experts, including Professor Marina Novelli, Didier Bayeye and Ifeanyi Ogochukwu, examined the Impact of Airlines on Sustainability of Tourism Destinations.
It was moderated by Kojo Bentum Williams, Senior Expert on Communication in Africa at the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). The conference which offered avenue for business-to-business (B2B) opportunities for aviation and tourism players to network on a global platform for sustainable business impacts, witnessed on the third and final day the staging of a CEO Leadership Breakfast Meeting sponsored by Marriott International.
The forum provided yet another opportunity for informal business-to-business as well as business-to-consumer meetings. The conference climaxed with a gala night featuring the Tower Awards. The highlight of the Tower Awards was the induction of Ato Girma Wake, Board Chairman of Ethiopian Airlines and Irene Koki Mutungi, who is a Captain on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Kenya Airways, into the Aviators Africa Hall of fame for their meritorious and trailblazing services to the development of African Aviation.