Accra, Ghana (PANA) - West African experts are meeting in Accra, Ghana, on the development of a viable airline industry for the region.
The two-day, high-level meeting, which opened on Friday, is being attended by representatives of airlines from ECOWAS member states, civil aviation authorities, airport managers and experts from within and outside the region.
The meeting, which is reviewing presentations and relevant reports as a follow up to the June 2011 meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, will make recommendations to the 24 October 2011 meeting of ECOWAS Ministers of Transport, also to be held in Accra.
In a keynote address at the opening, Ghana's Deputy Minister of Transport, Mrs. Dzifa Attivor, announced a plan by her country to establish a separate air navigation service provider as part of initiatives to modernize its aviation sector, improve the environment for efficient airline
operations and in response to global trends.
The minister said the separation, which is “planned for the near future”, was part of several initiatives to modernize the sector which were launched in 1997 under the Gateway Project.
Following the project launch, the minister said the regulatory functions were decoupled from airports management in 2007, resulting in Ghana Civil Aviation Authority operating as an industry regulator, while the airports were managed by the Ghana Airports Company.
She said the changes were in response to the changing need of users and the environment under which airlines operate as well as the dramatic changes experienced globally by the aviation industry and to enable the industry to meet new economic, social and environmental challenges.
As further evidence of these changes, she said extensive physical works were ongoing at the country’s international and domestic airports to bring them to international standards.
In his speech, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Mr. Celestin Talaki, challenged West African airlines to work together to take advantage of the benefits of liberalisation and globalisation and overcome the challenges militating against their operations.
The Commissioner said this was consistent with the global trend, citing the demise of some national airlines and the multinational Air Afrique as well as the consolidation of airlines in Europe, Asia and America as justification for such a change.
In encouraging synergies, the Commissioner said the ECOWAS Commission was motivated by the 2009 Decision of Heads of State and Government that called for the institutionalisation of the annual meeting of chief executives of civil aviation authorities and airline companies as a platform to develop durable solutions to the problems confronting the sector.
In this regard, he said the ECOWAS Commission had organised two meetings, in Accra in 2009 and in Lome in 2011, both of which agreed on a plan of action and mechanism for cooperation among regional airlines.
-0- PANA SEG 22Oct2011