Airline sector could spur Africa's economic growth


In the past few months the region has seen the entry of new low cost airlines players such as Skywise, Fly Africa and Fly Safair, that could help trigger growth in the industry and create new jobs.

(WATCH VIDEO: Three new low cost airlines enter the southern African market)

According to Linden Birns, an airline industry expert, just not enough people were looking at the air transport sector as a home for employment.


“It’s a microcosmic society as we need pilots and engineers we also need good legal, financial, sales and commercial people,” he told CNBC Africa.

Birns said, the entry of new players was a positive development in the industry but urged governments to relook at liberalising transport sector.

“Competition is going to be good but cannot exist without the regulatory framework that enables it and that’s what we are missing in Africa,” said Birns.

“This is what they have in Europe that enabled the success of easy jets. Europe decided that they would liberalise the bilateral transport and air agreement allowing those airlines to fly to any destination.”

Birns said prescribing how each player can participate in Africa has been the major setback in Africa’s airline industry’s growth trajectory.

“If the African Union and its member countries adopted more liberal and bilateral set of frameworks they could add about five million passengers to the network,” noted Birns.

“If the liberal bilateral frameworks are adopted the region could create about 155000 more jobs, adding 1.5 billion US dollars to the continent’s GDP.”

(READ MORE: Lack of liberalisation hurting Africa airline industry)

The aviation industry currently contributes about seven billion US dollars to the continent’s GDP.

“If as Africans we applied our minds progressively we could double that figure especially if we looked at how we regulate the industry,” he said.

He lamented protectionism created by governments that are short sighted and said they were weighing back on possibilities of growth.

“A lot is about monopoly protection but if we look at countries like Kenya and Ethiopia, they have managed to put the airline industry in their economic growth agenda.”