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US initiative to boost African aviation safety.

The US has launched a multimillion dollar partnership initiative with eight African nations aimed at improving airline and airport services on the continent.

The US Secretary of Transportation, Rodney Slater, announced recently in Washington the next step in fulfilling President Bill Clinton's Safe Skies Initiative for Africa by inviting eight countries from sub-Saharan Africa to participate in the initiative. The countries are Angola, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Mali, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.

Partnership

The US will work in close partnership with these countries "to achieve sustainable improvements in aviation safety, security, and efficiency," Slater told the gathering of ambassadors and representatives from 30 African nations.

The official added that "safe air travel and secure airports are prerequisites for Africa's integration into the global economy for increasing trade, attracting investment, growing the tourism industry and weaving together a modern society".

Goals

According to the Department of Transportation official, the initiative has three major goals: to significantly increase the sub-Saharan African nations ability to meet the safety and security standards of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO); to improve security at eight to 12 airports in Africa within three years; and to improve regional air navigation services.

Slater added: "At the minimum, it is our intention that Safe Skies participants meet applicable international safety oversight standards, by achieving Category 1 status". He noted that South Africa, Ghana and Ethiopia already meet these standards.

Specialists

The US will provide Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) specialists to participate in the interagency survey teams that will work with participating African nations. "Our plan is to survey the first two countries during the first and second quarters of the calendar year 1999," said FAA Head, Jane Garvey. "Based on the results of those surveys we will work in partnership with those countries to prepare a work plan to improve and enhance their aviation infrastructure."

Pointing out that she wanted to "re-emphasise the partnership element" in the initiative, she said, "we see this as a work plan that will be developed in collaboration and partnership with our African colleagues".

Slater said he was pleased to see Africans developing a "new interest in air service links between Africa and the US", noting that Polar Air Cargo had inaugurated a service between New York and South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya, becoming the first US airline in some time to serve the sub-Sahara with its own aircraft.

Codesharing

Acknowledging that Ethiopian Airlines recently added Newark to its US-Africa service, Slater added that "code sharing services are also increasing travel options between the US and Africa". He also announced that the US government is "approving an expansion of the Northwest-Kenya Airways codeshare to include additional African destinations".

Jonnie Carson, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, said that for America, "our stake in Africa's political and economic success has never been clearer or more important".

In that regard the initiative "will directly contribute to achieving the two goals this administration shares with its African partners: integrating Africa into the global economy and combating transnational threats to our mutual and long-term security".

In addition, "increased opportunities for trade, spurred by progress and augmented by improved aviation safety and security, are very much in our own bilateral interest," said Carson. The US economy is fuelled by exports, and "Africa represents a vast and growing economic frontier of some 800 million consumers," he added.

Carson concluded, "America's commercial interest in Africa will deepen as the Safe Skies for Africa initiative creates the opportunities for American businesses to move into Africa and take advantage of that growing and important market".
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Comment:US initiative to boost African aviation safety.
Publication:Airports International
Geographic Code:60AFR
Date:Jan 1, 1999
Words:597
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