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Hopes of Improvement for African Airline Industry

For years, the African airlines industry has faced many crises, from bankruptcy to a poor safety record caused by a rash of accidents. The secretary general of the African Airlines Association says the industry needs a Marshall Plan from the African Development Bank and other donor organizations to improve air services on the continent. From Paris, Christian Folly-Kossi tells Voice of America English to Africa reporter James Butty that one cause of the problems afflicting the African airlines industry is globalization.

“At the [dawn] of independence in the 1960s, we were having a lot of powerful airlines. Some visionaries in some of the regions even formed multinational carriers. That was the case of Air Afrique in western and central Africa. In the east you were having East African Airways and some other powerful airlines like Nigeria Airways, Ghana Airways, and Zaire’s. They all disappeared as a result of intense and fierce competition from liberalization. Globalization, I would say, has destroyed the airlines industry in Africa.”

Folly-Kossi says globalization means putting the strong and the weak on equal footing. But he says while David killed Goliath in the Bible, the Goliaths have been killing the David’s in the African airlines market. Folly-Kossi says the African Airlines industry should consider imposing some restrictions to bring some balance to the competition.

Folly-Kossi admits that the African airlines industry has been plagued by accidents. But he says the media reporting of these accidents has not been fair.

“Yes, we do have a very bad record of safety, but these accidents are happening in very few countries. Most of those countries were involved in war. So we should in this matter consider that there are two Africas. The Africa that is competing in the worldwide industry and the Africa that is now doing a very bad job within the frontiers in Africa.”

Folly-Kossi says for the African airlines industry to move forward, governments must remove their interests in the commercial airlines market. He also says African carriers must consolidate to form larger regional carriers and that priority should be given to privatization of the African airlines industry.

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