The vice president of International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Africa Raphael Kuuchi has said that protectionism has constricted air traffic growth in Africa, and called for capacity development to increase the market share of air transport in Africa and other continents.
Speaking to IATA delegates at stakeholders’ forum at Serena Hotel in Kampala, Mr. Kuuchi also noted that once airlines are empowered, thousands of jobs will be created and movement of people will increase.
On the mooted revival of Uganda Airlines, Mr. Kuuchi said Uganda would enjoy an advantageous position in the African air industry.
“Uganda has taken bold steps to improve aviation however the African aviation market remains underdeveloped especially in connectivity and that’s why air transport reform is important in Africa,” Mr Kuuchi said, adding: “Some African airlines that are making profits in a liberalized environment, therefore, it is possible for the coming Uganda Airline to make money.”
He also told the delegates that national carriers are important, with non-monetary but economic benefits.
“The benefits of aviation go beyond accounts, it’s not simply a profit centre, if you quantify the benefits to the economy, you realise why airlines are not closing despite making losses,” he said.
On his part the Managing Director of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Dr. David Kakuba said that government is ready to work with IATA in developing safe and efficient aviation, favourable for investors.
“Because Uganda is rated above the global average in aviation safety according to the latest audit, it has the most potential for growth out of all global regions. The country fully embraced the liberalization of air transport services in the region and this will play a significant role in boosting it,” Dr. Kakuba said.
Dr. Kakuba also said that in an effort to boost air transport, Uganda had embarked on the expansion of Entebbe Airport and other smaller aerodromes and, building an airport in Hoima.