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View from the Board: Introduction of New Board Member, Sanjeev Gadhia

Tuesday, December 5, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rachael Negron
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View from the Board - Introduction of New Board Member, Sanjeev Gadhia



My journey in aviation started in 2000 in Nairobi, Kenya when an opportunity to establish an all-cargo airline arose to meet the regional charter requirements of the humanitarian sector.


With an initial fleet of wet-leased foreign-registered Antonov-12’s, we managed to acquire our ASL (Air Service License) and AOC (Air Operators Certificate) in 2001 and gradually transformed into a scheduled carrier in 2007 followed by the acquisition of DC9F’s, B727F’s, F27 and B747-400F from 2009 to date.


My company took up a Corporate membership with TIACA in 2001 and I personally attended each and every ACF (Air Cargo Forum) since including Hong Kong in 2002, Bilbao in 2004, Calgary in 2006, Kuala Lumpur in 2008, Amsterdam in 2010, Atlanta in 2012, Seoul in 2014 and Paris in 2016.


Realizing the importance of associations, we became the first cargo-airline to join the prestigious league of African airlines, AFRAA (African Airlines Association) in 2015 and lobbied for the creation of an air-cargo task-force which was set-up in 2016, where I was appointed Vice Chairman.


Fast Forward to June 2017, I was a guest speaker at an ICAO Meeting on Air Cargo Development in Africa and shared the panel with Mr. Vladimir Zubkov, Secretary General of TIACA which didn’t come as a surprise, as this was not the first African event that was attended by TIACA. Vladimir was on a panel in South Africa a few months before together with Dr. Elijah Chingosho, Secretary General of AFRAA and Glyn Hughes of IATA at the Air Cargo Africa event.Subsequently, I was invited to join the Board of TIACA in October 2017 and my first priority was to create a bond of co-operation between AFRAA and TIACA. This was achieved thanks to the goodwill and commitment of both Secretary General’s and an MoU was executed in November 2017 at AFRAA’s AGM in Kigali, Rwanda which was attended by TIACA’s Secretary General. Vladimir Zubkov participated actively in panel sessions promoting the importance of air-cargo in a passenger-dominated event, whereby only 2 delegates from the cargo industry (Mr. Zubkov and myself) were present in an audience of 400 delegates.


The MoU between AFRAA & TIACA is based on strengthening cooperation on aviation matters in the following areas: Air cargo and mail security and facilitation; replacing paper-based practices with electronic ones; environmental practices; liberalization of market access for air cargo services; air cargo safety; and modernization of all the processes of air cargo transportation.


For AFRAA, it will enable its members and especially the Cargo Task Force, to embrace the opportunities that TIACA will bring aboard in areas such as Networking, Education & Training, Industry Relations and Participation in TIACA Cargo Events as a group.


For TIACA, it will enable the organization to reach-out to the air-cargo industry in Africa and also to assist AFRAA in its lobbying efforts on a global level. It will also enable TIACA to promote its air-cargo development program to African airlines and increase participation from African airlines at TIACA events.


But why should Africa matter to TIACA?

According to IATA, Africancarriers had the fastest growth in year-on-year freight volumes, up 31.6% in June 2017 and a capacity increase of 7.6%. This contributed to freight demand growing 25.9% in the first half of 2017 – the fastest of all regions. Demand has been boosted by very strong growth on the trade lanes to and from Asia which have increased by nearly 60% in the first five months of 2017. Capacity grew 11.2% in the first half of the year. Seasonally adjusted growth has levelled off in recent months; however growth is set to remain in double digits for the remainder of 2017.


Despite IATA’s positive outlook, Africa continues to face enormous challenges in its air-cargo development strategy due to the lack of liberalization, restrictions on traffic rights, limited intra-Africa connectivity, lack of co-operation between African Airlines, high cost and taxes in fuel and airport services, in-adequate infrastructure and lack of capacity building and training. A sad-reality that only 15% of the air-cargo is carried by African-domiciled carriers.


Africa will offer enormous opportunities in air-cargo to serve its middle-class population and its youth (60% of the population is below the age of 30) .


There is hope for Africa with the ratification of the much awaited “Single African Air Transport Market” in January 2018 which will be undertaken by 23 of the 54 African countries, which is to create asingle unifiedair transport marketinAfrica, the liberalisation of civilaviationinAfrica and as an impetus to the Continent's economic integration agenda.


Other priorities for 2018 include a lobbying effort for the reduction of taxes and charges which will generate more demand and connectivity, and increase the intra-Africa traffic by 20% by an active participation in AFRAA’s Route Network Co-ordination Project.


While the benefits of a single unified air-transport market will be enjoyed by African airlines, it is likely that foreign carriers will place more importance in co-operating with African airlines by entering into code-shares and JV agreements. Foreign airlines who operate into Africa rarely co-operate with local carriers with the exception of interline agreements in the form of SPA’s (Special Pro Rate Agreements).


This will be a unique opportunity for TIACA and AFRAA to form a joint-project which will enable carriers from both associations to enhance their co-operation.


In conclusion, the success of any association lies in the proactiveness and agility of its members to derive the values that comes with their membership. Despite a genuine effort to promulgate a MoU between TIACA and AFRAA, time will only tell whether the co-operation has benefited its members.


It is my appeal to the members of both TIACA and AFRAA to join-hands in the spirit of co-operation and add value to their respective networks as the benefits will be felt by the consumers that we work so hard to serve.




Sanjeev S Gadhia

CEO, Astral Aviation Ltd

TIACA Board of Directors

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