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Governance and Funding: Key Drivers for African Airline Growth

To achieve growth and attract funding, African airlines must prioritize improved governance and robust leadership. This was the core message delivered by Vijay Poonoosamy, a barrister and partner at Dentons Mauritius, during the recent African Aviation Summit held in Johannesburg.

Poonoosamy emphasized, “Our continent’s national leaders must show their commitment to national interests with integrity and allow government-owned African airlines to be run effectively and efficiently by professionals.”

He added, “Leaders who embrace this approach will enable national airlines and related government aviation entities to flourish, thereby propelling their countries forward.”

Shahid Sulaiman, senior partner and head of corporate for Africa at Dentons, highlighted that countries fostering such environments for their airlines will improve their chances of securing fair and reasonable terms for aircraft and financing. This is vital for providing the intra and inter-continental air connectivity that Africa urgently needs.

The summit, in its 32nd iteration, centered on the challenge of funding African airlines, including both existing carriers and start-ups. International and African financial experts, along with senior officials from leading African airlines, convened to discuss the current landscape and seek practical solutions.

Poonoosamy urged financial institutions and investors to consider supporting African airlines that demonstrate good governance and leadership. “With more companies worldwide embracing ESG (environmental, social, and governance) principles, I urge aircraft vendors, lessors, and financiers to offer well-managed African airlines terms as attractive or even better than those offered to well-established and profitable airlines elsewhere.”

Sulaiman pointed out the intertwined nature of Africa’s socio-economic status and its aviation sector. “Africa’s socio-economic status impacts its civil aviation sector, and vice versa. Excellent governance and the right leadership will help deliver safe, secure, viable, and sustainable African airlines, fostering socio-economic growth and creating a virtuous cycle.”

Poonoosamy concluded, “The growth and sustainability of African airlines depend on strong leadership and governance. Government officials should work towards implementing policies that foster these qualities in the aviation sector. Financial institutions and investors play a crucial role by providing the necessary funding and support to airlines that demonstrate good governance and leadership. This will drive the socio-economic development essential for the continent’s overall progress.”

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