African Business Aviation Association launches Ethiopian chapter

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The African Business Aviation Association (AfBAA) launched its first independent Chapter on 9 August 2016, when the AfBAA Ethiopia Chapter was formed in the country’s capital Addis Ababa. The meeting, which was also the first in a series of AfBAA Country Roundtables, was attended by almost 40 delegates. Representatives from both the public and private sectors discussed the current state of business aviation in Ethiopia, and how best to enhance the industry, and its anticipated growth. Representatives of the civil aviation authority, AfBAA’s executive director, private operators, aviation suppliers, Ethiopian Airlines, and members of the media, discussed challenges and solutions related to the development of Ethiopia’s business aviation sector.

The event commenced in the morning with a keynote address from AfBAA’s executive director, Mr. Rady Fahmy, defining the role AfBAA plays in the growth of business aviation on the continent. Mr Fahmy highlighted that the association anticipates Ethiopia will experience tremendous growth of, and greater opportunities for, business aviation:

“We have identified two countries that we believe will witness major growth in the upcoming decade. One of those two countries is Ethiopia.

We, as your association, have been fortunate to observe the factors that have created growth in certain countries around Africa, and I am here to share with you that it is our belief that it is only a matter of time before Ethiopia becomes a major business aviation hub. It is inevitable - in our best judgment - that Ethiopia will join, or perhaps lead Africa in business aviation, just like it currently does in commercial aviation.”

Mr. Fahmy’s welcome address was followed by a keynote address from Madame Margareth Josephath Kyarwenda, secretary general of the newly created Association of African Aviation Training Organizations. Madame Kyarwenda emphasized aviation’s role in supporting “…free movement of people and cargo in a fast and efficient way…and how it plays a crucial role in economic prosperity. Africa’s initiative of a single air transport market will ensure that policies allow a conducive environment for the development and provision of safe, reliable and affordable air transport in Africa, necessary for the free movement of persons, goods and services in the continent.”

She also stressed the importance of having well trained and qualified, home grown human resources that will meet the rising demand for aviation professionals in Africa.

Dawit Lemma, AfBAA-Ethiopia Chapter’s president and founder/managing director of Krimson, closed out the welcoming remarks with a passionate delivery of his aspirations to establish the business aviation sector in Ethiopia by working collectively with all local stakeholders.

“It is the dream of Bole Airport (Addis Ababa) becoming Africa’s premium business aviation hub that I impart on you. It is this dream that we as Ethiopian aviation stakeholders should aspire to… It is this dream that we as a nation… together…will accomplish together. The realisation of this dream and vision, in concert with all of you today… is now in motion. The creation of the AfBAA Ethiopia Chapter, and today’s Country Roundtable are just the first steps. As president of the Ethiopian Chapter of AfBAA it is my mandate to establish and promote a thriving business aviation sector in Ethiopia. It is this mission that I am here to serve and to confirm. It is this vision that I am here to make a reality.”

Stanley Joseph, managing director of Kilimanjaro Aviation Logistics Centre (an affiliate of Universal Weather and Aviation) subsequently presented the importance and role of business aviation in economic development. He explained how Universal has entered the Ethiopian market because they have seen the growing demand for business aviation services from their own clients. He also touched on the benefits that business aviation serves as a driver for economic growth.

Thereafter, Dawit Gebregziabher, chairman of National Airways, and founder of Gosh Air, Ethiopia’s first private aviation company established in 1996, expressed his concern that the sector has not grown, or advanced in 20 years. He outlined some of the challenges still faced by operators and the many hurdles yet to be overcome.

After the coffee break, where delegates networked, the private stakeholders’ panel provided a platform for five industry leaders to share their knowledge and wisdom. Each participant was asked to discuss a specific point, and its associated challenges and opportunities:

  • Captain Solomon Gizaw, managing director of Abyssinian Flight Services, representing private operators in Ethiopia: operating climate for non-scheduled air transport services in Ethiopia

  • Ms. Margareth Kyarwenda, secretary general of AAATO, representing training organizations: difference/similarities of training human resources for business aviation vs. commercial aviation

  • Mr. Zemedeneh Negatu, managing partner of Ernst & Young Ethiopia, representing finance and investment industry: financial difficulties/solutions for aviation in Africa and how business aviation impacts economic development of country

  • Mr. Stanley Joseph, managing director of KALC, representing the flight support and handling industry described handling service levels currently in Ethiopia. He also described how do these standards hold up to international Business Aviation standards?

  • Mr. Pierre Lucas, chief of WFP/UNHAS Ethiopia, representing humanitarian aviation industry: the role of business aviation in humanitarian support, and its importance in serving afflicted regions and people.

After tremendous, valuable comments and insightful points had been made, each panelist was asked to close with a call-to-action to the stakeholders in attendance. The most profound, and one that struck a chord with all attendees was Mr. Zemedeneh’s recommendation that stakeholders “tell their story”. He encouraged delegates to highlight to the Ethiopian government specific examples of how business aviation has served the country. He said this is how to grab the attention of the policy and decision makers, and make favorable change occur.

Mr. Girma Shiferaw, VP of strategic planning and alliances of Ethiopian Airlines, concluded the Roundtable with a presentation about Ethiopian Airlines’ history and accomplishments. He further added that Ethiopian Airlines does not consider the business aviation sector a threat to Ethiopian Airlines, but in fact as complementary: “We do not consider private operators as competitors like foreign airlines. Rather you provide complementary service […] There is no discrimination; rather, the problem is related to inadequate facilities at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Ethiopian (Airlines) is ready to support general aviation in the areas of training and MRO services. We need to cooperate.”

Mr Fahmy and Mr. Lemma ended the Roundtable meeting by thanking attendees for their participation, and encouraging them to continue to engage with AfBAA.

Action Plan:

  1. The AfBAA Ethiopia Chapter will draft an “action plan” document that will identify the challenges that private operators face, and suggest solutions to alleviate those challenges.

  2. The draft document will be presented to all attendees who will be encouraged to review and provide feedback.

  3. The final document, telling “the right story”, will be shared with the Ethiopian government officials in a private meeting in mid-September.

After lunch there were two training sessions provided by Mr. Michael Grüninger, founder and managing director of Great Circle Services, and Mr. Sascha Neusser, manager of training services at Jeppesen. The training sessions were well attended, by a group which frequently engaged with the trainers through asking questions, sharing examples of real world scenarios in Ethiopia and giving general comments. The training sessions focused on the relationship/interface between SMS/SSP - requirements for a safety system by the operator, and how that interfaces with obligations from the Civil viation authority. In addition Dispatch requirements in regards to SMS/SSP, and a presentation on the application of a dispatch checklist in the context of international flight planning were discussed.

Press release issued by AfBAA African Business Aviation Association.