Advancing Africa’s connectivity. AviaDev 2017 event report
The second AviaDev Africa took place in Kigali, Rwanda 10-12 October 2017. Attended by 140 aviation professionals, the event delivered a conference programme providing a toolkit for route development in Africa, interactive, knowledge sharing workshops and facilitated over 500 one-to-one meetings.
AviaDev Africa is designed to catalyse connectivity to, from and within Africa and takes place alongside the Africa Hotel Investment Forum. As far as we know, we are the only forum globally connecting the aviation and hospitality industry for mutual benefit. Airlines can gather intel on where future hotels will be built, whilst hotel operators and investors can understand the network expansion plans if the airlines, plus meet airports that offer hotel development opportunities onsite.
AviaDev began on the Monday with a social outreach programme. AviaDev have a partnership with UTB Rwanda and delivered an afternoon of lectures to over 200 students studying for aviation diplomas.
The conference was officially opened by the Hon James Musoni, Minister of Infrastructure, against the backdrop of the new Bugesera airport that is currently under construction some 38 Kilometers outside of Kigali and the continued fleet and network expansion of the national carrier, RwandAir.
AviaDev was graced by the presence of Ato Girma Wake, former CEO of Ethiopian Airlines and former Chairman, RwandAir. Our first session was a one-on-one interview with Girma and Jon Howell, MD and founder of AviaDev. Girma was also the recipient of a lifetime achievement award for his services to African route development.
We then moved into a session discussing how to harness the power of e-commerce, provided by Travel Commerce Solutions.
Sabine Reim, SVP at InterVISTAS consulting group and formerly a network planner at British Airways, then took us through what an airline wants to hear from an airport when considering new air services and how to improve stakeholder collaboration to drive new air services, before we then heard from Cape Town Air Access and how they have galvanised their stakeholders to attract over 10 new routes in the last 2 years.
The final morning session concerned airport infrastructure in Africa and the financing of the projects. There were 3 different examples on the stage. Zambia opted for government investment, Rwanda a PPP and Zimbabwe received Chinese loans. It seems that PPP may be the model for future airport development in Africa.
The afternoon was spent in the pre-arranged one-to-one meeting sessions, before the final conference sessions of the day. These included a presentation from AviAssist on the role safety plays in the route development process before we heard from 2 new airline entrants, JetWest and then Jet Afrique, who outlined their plans ahead of launch in the West African market.
Day two saw the AviaDev delegates join their hotel counterparts for the opening of the Africa Hotel Investment forum. The Prime Minister of Rwanda officially opened the conference, before a keynote from leading African economist, Daniel Silke. Forwardkeys presented the bright outlook for African air travel bookings before we moved into a session looking at the link between aviation and hospitality, moderated by Adefunke Adeyemi from IATA.
The final conference sessions for AviaDev included a session hosted by Sabre discussing how to harness the power of data to make better network planning decisions, before the final session which saw a panel of 7 delegates discussing the viability of national carriers in Africa. We closed the conference with the signing of an MoU announcing the opening of an aviation safety promotion school in Rwanda and an afternoon of further one-to-one meetings.
AviaDev exists as a deal-making forum and we know of at least one new route that will be launched as a result of the meetings. Every element of the event is designed to provide education, stimulate debate and ultimately create new business opportunities. The location of the 2018 edition will be announced by the end of 2017 and we look forward to playing our part in Advancing Africa's connectivity.