GIS – 18 September 2018: The tourism industry, the Export Processing Zone, the financial services as well as other various key sectors are highly reliant on a good transport network, thus the need for a good air connectivity which is reliable and secure.
The Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit and Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, made this statement today at the Sugar Beach Hotel, Flic en Flac on the occasion of the Aviation Day. The Minister of Tourism, Mr Anil Gayan, the Chairman of Air Mauritius, Mr Arjoon Suddhoo, as well as other eminent personalities were present on the occasion.
The event is being hosted by Air Mauritius in collaboration with the International Air Transport Association Aviation Days in view to update concerned stakeholders on the state of the Aviation Industry and the current issues it is facing.
In his address, the Prime Minister highlighted that our local airline is connected to 40 destinations worldwide and has recently acquired two A 350-900 aircrafts out of the eight aircrafts as part of its fleet modernisation programme. The new aircrafts will offer enhanced passenger experience as well as comfort, operating efficiencies and technological innovation and will allow Air Mauritius to improve its products and competitiveness in the current dynamic and challenging market environment, he stated.
Highlighting that Air Mauritius has played an important role to transform the air connectivity in the country, the Prime Minister underlined that the company helped in bringing Mauritius closer to its main markets, thus giving an impetus to key sectors of the economy. Since the last three years, passenger traffic has increased by 9.3% and aircraft movement by 5.4%. The tourism earnings in 2018 have also increased by 3.7% to reach Rs 62.5 billion, he stressed.
Referring to the successful aircraft leasing company, Veling, Prime Minister Jugnauth pointed out that it is a niche aircraft leasing business with a portfolio of aircraft under its ownership and management, comprising B777 on lease to Emirates and A340 aircraft on lease to Sri Lankan Airlines. He lauded the company’s ability to purchase, finance and manage large aircrafts adding that Government will encourage the development of such companies.
Speaking about measures implemented as regards the development of the airport, Mr Jugnauth stated that part of the old terminal is being refurbished to the tune of Rs 225 million and will be completed during the first quarter of 2019. This terminal will be able to accommodate around half a million passengers, he added. Furthermore, a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with ADP International for the expansion of the existing facilities at Sir Seewoosagur International Airport and at Plaine Corail Airport in Rodrigues.
Prime Minister Jugnauth underpinned that in view of the new threats and challenges faced daily at the airport, liquid explosive detectors and modern X-ray machines have also been acquired to increase the safety levels of our operational environment.
For his part, the Chairman of Air Mauritius, Dr Arjoon Suddhoo, dwelt on Africa’s eagerness to have a national carrier which will generate a sense of national pride and will show a certain level of development. Aviation, he said, is at the heart of global economic development and is widely recognised as a key contributor to economic and social development.
As regards the importance of air connectivity, Dr Suddhoo highlighted that over time Governments have come to understand the importance of air connectivity built on global standards and to include it as a priority in their economic strategies. According to him, air connectivity is important for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) since it is a key development driver and will help to foster tourism growth. The SIDS comprise 60 airlines, 370 aircrafts and carries around 90 million passengers, he added.
The Chairman of Air Mauritius underlined that as a strategic partner in the tourism industry and playing a key role in the economic development of the country, Air Mauritius however still faces daunting challenges such as liberalisation, fuel price, competition, taxes and charges, strike, and activists. Hence the need, he said, for diligent partnering and consolidation of alliances and the infusion of digital technologies in aviation management and airport operations such as A1, Block chain, Big data and data analysis.
The objective of the conference is to gather world class industry leaders and experts from the aviation sector to discuss key issues and trends affecting the industry with special focus on SIDS and African airlines.
Mr Alexandre de Juniac, DG and CEO of IATA, the Secretary General of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) and the CEO's of several airlines namely Air Botswana, Air Seychelles, Air Tahiti, Emirates, Rwandair, and South African Airways were present. Representatives of Small Island Development States and African Airlines including the Regional Airlines, Civil Aviation Authorities and Airports also attended the conference.
Aviation experts are invited to talk about identified topics and panelists will then take over for discussions. The themes discussed during the conference include: Current state profitability, market opportunities for Africa, and economic benefits of aviation; Industry trends with special emphasis on Aviation Ecosystem and challenges for Small island states; Issues: Infrastructure, Private-public partnership, Taxation and high industry costs.