ZANZIBAR, TANZANIA-Zanzibar President Mohamed Shein has raised concerns over non- African carriers enjoying the lion’s share of the African airline market and called for concerted efforts to reverse the trend.

It is sad that 80 per cent of African market is commanded by non-African carriers … the time is ripe for us to be in the driver’s seat, Dr Shein said in the statement read on his behalf by Second Vice-President Seif Ali Idd at the opening of the 7th Aviation Stakeholders’ Convention here Monday.

The Zanzibar President noted that the aviation industry played a significant role in accelerating economic growth and providing various economic and social benefits and Zanzibar in particular greatly depended on air transport for smooth running of its economic and social activities, especially the development of tourism, which is the mainstay of Zanzibar’s economy and one of the leading economic sectors in Tanzania.

Air transport and tourism are among the fastest growing sectors in the world. We are all aware that practically, tourism and travel are inseparable entities … these two industries complement each other, he said.

Shein said the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 2018 Economic Impact Report showed that for the seventh consecutive year, travel and tourism had been contributing massively to the world gross domestic product (GDP).

By 2028, the travel and tourism industries are expected to support over 400 million jobs at a ratio of one to nine of all jobs, he noted. The president underscored the need to work towards a more integrated and connected Africa and challenged participants to device new strategies to promote proper management of intra-African connectivity to enhance competitiveness for great benefits among African airlines.

He urged the convention to deliberate on the challenges facing the sector on the continent and come up with resolutions that will create more integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, enjoying higher flow of tourists and flourishing aviation sector.

Shein reaffirmed the government’s determination to revitalise the national flag carrier, Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL), noting that huge efforts have been directed towards improving the existing fleet and services it offers as well as exploring new destinations. Only last week the third Bombardier Dash Q400 passenger flight was received in Dar es Salaam and inaugurated by President John Magufuli as part of measures to revive ATCL.

Plans are well underway for the purchase of another three planes later this year…I hope the African Airline Association and all its members welcome these new developments and will provide the needed support and guidance for ATCL to succeed in its missions, said Shein.

African Airlines Association (AFRAA) Secretary General Abderahmane Berthe said the convention, themed “Harnessing Aviation Opportunities in Africa”, was designed for aviation stakeholders to deliberate on opportunities and challenges facing the industry.