Eighty delegates from across Africa attended Embraer’s two-day Airline Business Seminar-Africa 2011 in Nairobi on July 20 and 21. The event was the first for the African region and follows the company’s program of regularly-scheduled conferences featuring prestigious guest speakers from industry and finance.
The day prior to the start of the formal agenda, participants boarded a Kenya Airways E190 for a private round-tripflight from Nairobi to Mombasa where they were given the opportunity to experience the features of the aircraft. Presentations on the conference theme, Connectivity in Africa, highlighted not only the impediments to air travel growth but market opportunities and optimism for the region.
Speaking about the dominance of non-African carriers on international routes and the imbalance that it creates for local airlines, Dr. Elijah Chongosho, Secretary General of the African Airlines Association, noted there is still tremendous potential for expansion if traffic rights are liberalized.
Sharing the positive traffic outlook of Mathieu Duquesnoy,Embraer’sCommercial Aviation Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, JP Morgan’s Head of Research and Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa, Giulia Pellegrini, presented her analysis of strong growth rates and income levels.
In a session moderated by Nick Fadugba, CEO of African Aviation Services, industry veteran and former CEO of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa John Morrison cited the narrow mindset of government-owned carriers and reluctance to embrace competition. Mike Higgins, IATA’s Regional VP for Africa, was also on the panel discussing constraints to improving connectivity.
Dr. Titus Naikuni, CEO of Kenya Airways, detailed his company’s ambitious expansion plans and the weak infrastructure and obstacles, particularly the slow improvements to Nairobi airport that are hindering the airline’s growth.