How is business aviation doing in Africa?
Sometimes in our life there is room for paradoxes. For example, in 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to gain momentum, and business aviation in Africa, as if this does not notice. Let's try to figure out together why this is happening, and if everything is so smooth?
As Helina Teshome, Managing Director of Ethiopian airline Krimson Aviation notes, "Ironically, in Africa, the pandemic has had a positive impact on business aviation, as governments, legislative and regulatory bodies, the business community and even commercial airlines have realized the real value and benefits of business aviation in terms of efficiency, convenience and flexibility. At Krimson (which, by the way, refers to conventional commercial aviation), there have also been points of growth in the last 18 months. However, it's important to note that the motivation to fly was different."
Helina Teshome of Krimson Aviation (left)
As for business aviation, in Africa, the industry has supported cargo, medical shipments, repatriation, diplomatic flights, and the movement of technical teams. In addition, the field has recently resumed international business flights. As Teshome says: "All this underscores that business aviation is more than just an industry that supports business executives. In Africa, it complements other commercial services. Business aviation is a small but important pillar in Africa, providing a basic level of mobility and stability."
Emergency services, freight forwarders, mining and anti-poaching, pest and forest fire organizations, as well as wealthy tourists and heads of international states depend on this sector. Importantly, too, business aviation supports Africa's growing economy.
"At the height of the pandemic, we were responsible for most of the international flights coming into Africa. We also found that we supported flights in other industries. Requests for cargo, medical assistance and charter flights became the norm for a while. This stimulated interest in business aviation, including from new customers. We have also supported customers who have switched from commercial to business aviation because of personal safety and health concerns," says James Foster, chief operating officer of Vertis Aviation.
James Foster, chief operating officer of Vertis Aviation
John Paul Fourier, vice chairman of the African Business Aviation Association, notes, however, that not everything has been so smooth. "The confusion during the lockdown created additional problems. Countries closed and opened their borders haphazardly," he says.
John Paul Fourier, vice chairman of the African Business Aviation Association
The association said interest in business aviation as a safe solution has increased significantly, but the vast majority of operators say it's in leaps and bounds. Depending on the segment, the numbers can range from 40 percent to 70 percent over the ancillary figures.