Africa becomes dumping ground for old aircraft

Business News of Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Source: B&FT

2016-09-20

Airplane 1File photo

Just like other products, Africa has become a scrapyard for aircraft that have outlived their usefulness in Europe, Thabani Mthiyane, CEO of South Africa’s Air Traffic Navigation Services (ATNS) has said, calling on leaders on the continent to take their seat at the decision making table.

In an interview with the B&FT in Accra, Thabani Mthiyane, who is also the Vice Chair of the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), said the irony of the situation is that after dumping such aircraft in Africa, western countries ban them from flying to their territories.

“If you look at the Chapter 2 aircraft as far as the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regulations is concerned, they are banned from Europe. The worst part is that most of these aircraft are actually coming from Europe. They use Africa as a dumping zone. So once they don’t need them they bring them here and tell us you can’t fly them to the West.”

The chapter two aircraft are deemed to emit more pollution and have higher noise levels than modern fleet of planes, by ICAO experts. They are mostly older subsonic jet aeroplanes.

“We need to take our position at the top table and not allow Europe and other Western countries make a decision for us,” Thabani Mthiyane, who was appointed to the CANSO Council only this year said.

“…it is important to have African representatives on Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), because you find out that the decisions taken out there are made to favour the Western States.”

The European Union regularly updates its blacklist of banned airlines and planes which do not meet its regulatory standards.

This EU blacklist includes nearly 300 airlines and aircraft that are either banned from flying into the EU or only able to fly to the EU under certain restrictions. More than 18 airlines or planes are on the EU’s banned list.

Aside the restrictive prohibition on the operation of seemingly old aircraft from the continent to Europe, there are still challenges with intra-Africa connectivity.

Henok Tefferra, Managing Director of ASKY Airlines, which operates within Africa, is of the view that connectivity gaps still exist in West Africa for two reasons: one, because the aviation policy environment is not very conducive, and two, because operation costs are high.

“To be very frank, you still have traffic rights restrictions. I, for example, cannot fly as many times as I want, to all the destinations that I want,” he said.

“There are still restrictions which I don’t understand because over 20 years ago, the Yamasukuro decision was adopted by the leaders of Africa, liberalising African skies for African airlines, especially fifth freedom. But implementation has been slow.

The African Union wants to create a single African aviation market which we support, we want to push, but fragmented and the traffic right restriction is a very difficult issue, the environment is not conducive.”

He added that: “Secondly, the cost of environment in West and Central Africa is prohibitive. Why is it that the cost of over-flying here is twice as expensive as in East Africa? Why is it that ground handling is 30-40 percent more expensive here? Why is it that the same aircraft fuel which I know aircraft everywhere consume is 20- 30 percent more expensive here?

In the sub-region, he argued, aviation is considered “a luxury sector,” and a “cash cow,” a reason governments slap innumerable taxes it and render it uncompetitive.

“With that mindset, aviation in this part of the world will have difficulty in providing initial air connectivity; it is not conducive.”

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