By Roland Ohaeri
Mombasa is an alluring sight for tourists. With its fast-rising profile in Kenya and Africa’s airports and tourism reckoning, Mombasa is ramping up its total attractions including air cargo. This why it will not be surprising to see many delegates attending the Airports Council International (ACI-Africa) Regional Conference & Exhibition holding from 12 to 18 March 2022 in Mombasa, Kenya, the event venue, the Pride Inn Paradise Beach Resort, Convention Centre and Spa, is graciously located on the coastline of the Indian Ocean, reconnecting delegates with nature after a long suspension of in-person events of the airports community by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to ACI-Africa, the conference, themed; A New Vision for a Resilient and Sustainable African Airport Industry, will cover trendy topics, including the main challenges facing African airports in ensuring resilience, profitability and sustainability in the new normal as well as sessions on air transport viability, smart technology, commercial revenues, air cargo and air access liberalization, amongst others.
The conference is expected to gather over 200 high-level participants from the government, the African and international aviation industry, airport operators as well as leaders from the public and private sectors, international institutions and service providers. For the first time since 2020, many airport and aviation experts and enthusiasts with meet physically, share food and drinks and memories, and tackle future challenges of the airports.
ACI says the much awaited event among the international aviation community will give delegates a unique opportunity to present their flagship products and services and to engage into new business opportunities.
Some major challenges have become more worrisome in Africa’s aviation industry including airport charges, airport privatization and management as well as issues of poor airport infrastructure and capacity, as uncovered or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several airports in Africa have remained unresponsive to the growth in passenger and cargo demand over the years. Furthermore, poor management and lack of commitment to airports infrastructure development encourage government-controlled airports to divert airport revenues to other uses rather than ploughing back to develop the airports.
n-person participants are expected to draw new attention to workable airport development models and how these can work realistically for African airports, while lending strong voices against unnecessary travel restrictions. Most importantly, investors and airlines will find the opportunity to seek collaborative participation in Africa’s airports.
With Africa’s passenger and cargo figures at less than 2% of global passenger and cargo traffic, opportunities abound for African airlines to interconnect many more airport and city-pairs.
Investors face the huge untapped cargo and other non-aeronautical-revenue spinning businesses at African airports. African Airports must be attuned to support the local trade and businesses in their local economies as a first step to sustainability and profitability as recovery improves.