Marco van de Kreeke speaks about African aviation


 Nederlands | English

One of the speakers at the mini-symposium, organized by AviAssist, was Marco van de Kreeke. He spoke about his own experiences in African aviation. At this time Van de Kreeke is the CEO of Groningen Airport Eelde. In the past, he was Managing Director and Airport Manager at Kilimanjaro International Airport. Besides these jobs, Van de Kreeke has also been Managing Director of Bonaire International Airport and has had multiple functions at Maastricht Aachen Airport.

Van de Kreeke started his lecture with the distorted view people have of African aviation. He believes that the successes should get more attention. He noticed that it’s not the African people who think African aviation is unsafe, but the people from western countries. He asked the audience: “How relevant is it for us, western people, to judge about African safety?” He answered the question himself. He told the audience that people from western countries couldn’t judge African aviation, because aviation in Europe is more advanced than in Africa. He concluded that African aviation is all about the perspective from which it is viewed.

Van de Kreeke continued his lecture with his own experiences. He told about the first period he worked for Kilimanjaro Airport, which was from 2001 till 2003. Although there were big ambitions, He noticed that money was the biggest problem back then. The airport was missing framework. The biggest carrier flying to the airport was KLM.

After that, he told about the changes he saw when he came back to the airport in 2009. There was profit, but it wasn’t generated by investments. They tried to lure companies to the airport, so the airport would grow. Eventually, it worked. More people visited the airport and an increasing number of flights departed and arrived. Bigger carriers came to the airport, such as Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines. This created new opportunities for the improvement of the airport’s infrastructure.

Working for Groningen Airport Eelde now, does not mean Tanzania is not on Van de Kreeke’s mind anymore. He told about a 37 million deal, closed in 2015 with building company BAM, which would improve the infrastructure of Kilimanjaro International Airport. This investment will make Kilimanjaro Airport the second largest airport of the country. Additionally, due to the cooperation between the Dutch and Tanzanian airports, there now is an improved fire and rescue service at Kilimanjaro Airport.


He concluded his lecture with the role AviAssist plays in African aviation. He noticed that the cultural differences are a challenge. In Tanzania, there has not been a safety culture to speak of, and the cultural standards and values differ substantially. He thinks AviAssist is a valuable addition to aviation safety in Africa because of the formal training the foundation offers in various countries.

After the lecture, Van de Kreeke answered a couple of questions from the audience. One of the questions was: “Do you think it is possible to combine the different cultures?” He answered that he thinks it can be difficult, because the western culture is very different from the African culture. One of the differences between western cultures and African cultures is faith. After something happens, people in Africa tend to think: “If that is what God wants, then so be it”. In western countries people are more likely to carefully sort out problems and less inclined to assume a greater power from above that cannot be dealt with.


Reed more about the mini-symposium here.

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