Nederlands | English
Titus Naikuni, former CEO of Kenya Airways, sees a bright future for African aviation. Safety in the continent’s aviation has been improving. There is still work to be done, but the Netherlands can help with that, he stated last Wednesday at a symposium in Amsterdam.
Naikuni attended the Friends of AviAssist mini-symposium to speak about the growth of and safety in African aviation. He was CEO of Kenya Airways from 2003 to 2014, now he is a member of the board at telecommunication company Airtel Kenya.
Growth & safety
The Safety has improved over the last years, Naikuni states. Not one hull loss has been reported in 2014 and 2013 has also been a relatively safe year for African aviation, with only four accidents. This number was much higher even in 2012.
Annual growth rates of between five and seven percent entice people to start airlines. Naikuni says that it is important for people to receive proper training. Training that is not up to standard, could negatively affect safety. Manufacturers share in the responsibility for safety. They should ask their customers whether or not they are ready for certain products in terms of skills and know-how. Should this not be the case, they should not sell their products. Naikuni explained the situation as follows: ‘’we are united by blood, but divided by greed. That simplifies it and I think we are going to become greedy to the extent of not looking after each other.’’
Because of the annual growth, local players are also starting to look into the start-up of low-cost carriers. Naikuni does not predict a bright future for them in East Africa, because people tend to carry lots of luggage such as gifts for their relatives. Since they need to pay extra money to carry these goods at low-cost carriers, the fares will be roughly similar to those of full service carriers. According to Naikuni there is no difference in safety between low-cost carriers and full service carriers. He mentions South Africa, where the concept of low-cost carriers is more developed: the regulations there are very strict, which makes the low-cost carriers safe.
According to Naikuni, the Dutch government can help African countries by training personnel. He says: ‘’you can go and install equipment, but if you don’t have people who are trained properly, then it is of no use.’’ The Dutch can also help with the auditing of operations to identify areas where investments or improvements are nessacery.
Organizations like AviAssist can accomplish progress in safety as well. Naikuni says: ‘’AviAssist brings together European and African countries so as to share knowledge. Together with IATA there is even more that could be done.’’
Students can also make a difference. Naikuni says that students can improve the safety in the future via two ways. The first one is to visit Africa, for a holiday for example. Spending time there will help them to begin to understand Africa. The second thing is to start school projects. He mentions University of Delft and Kenya Airways. Students from the University of Delft have gone to Kenya to start and execute projects for Kenya Airways. Naikuni sees improvement if students do such projects.
Naikuni sees a brighter future, because products from India and China are getting cheaper. This leaves Africa with some leeway to invest money in things like infrastructure. According to Naikuni, it will take a long time until the safety reaches the European or American standard. But he is optimistic and says: ‘The beauty is you don’t see it wearing down, it is going up. It is going better, because there is a lot of regulation going in.’
Read more about the mini-symposium here.