President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Tuesday underscored the importance of the air traffic industry to the development of the global economy, urging governments to make requisite investments into the sector.
He said there was need for governments in Africa and around the world to channel constantly more investment into improving infrastructure and air navigation systems to respond to the anticipated traffic growth and also keep up to the dynamism in technology that the aviation industry demanded.
‘We must, as a matter of priority, ensure that the aviation industry is placed among the top priorities of our national priority agenda,’ he stressed.
Delivering the keynote address at the opening of the 57th Annual Conference of International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Association (IFATCA) in Accra, President Akufo-Addo said with global air traffic projected to grow by some 5.6 percent annually, countries ought to position themselves to reap the impressive benefits from the sector.
More so, the President noted that 2017 figures released by the International Air Travel Association (IATA) showed that the global air transport industry supported 62.7 million jobs world-wide.
‘Every day, 9.8 million passengers take to the air, with 104 thousand flights and some US$18.6 billion worth of goods are carried. IATA notes that air traffic globally has been growing at 5 per cent annually and has been projected to grow by 5.6 per cent per year, over the next 20 years,’ he said.
President Akufo-Addo also commended air traffic controllers whose efforts and contributions to air safety and security in the aviation industry had been largely unrecognised.
‘We most often than not, tend to recognise the efforts of our pilots, airhosts and airhostesses, engineers and other technical staffs, and attribute the smoothness or otherwise of our flights to these people. But I am sure that I am not the only one who shares the view that without you, our air traffic controllers, there would be utter chaos, both in our airports and skies”.
‘Air traffic will literally be impossible without the very important work that you do. As we say in Ghana, ‘Ayekoo’ and more grease to your elbows,’ the President said.
The Accra IFATCA Conference, first to be held in West Africa, brings together stakeholders in the international air traffic industry to brainstorm on interventions to protect and safeguard the interest of air traffic control profession and promote and uphold a high standard of knowledge and professional efficiency among air traffic controllers.
The week-long programme, on the theme: “Making the Future Ours”, is expected to create, maintain, and enhance the worldwide fellowship of the world traffic controllers.
President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that his administration had made the aviation industry a priority in the scheme of things in the development drive of Ghana.
He said government was poised to develop the country’s aviation industry to make it competitive within the West African sub-region.
The President pointed at a number of projects that had been initiated towards guaranteeing an enhanced air travel experience, including the construction of a new passenger terminal with capacity to handle 5 million passengers a year.
He also made mention of intentions to establish a home-based national airline in line with the country’s vision of becoming the aviation hub in West Africa, and the plans to establish an aviation academy, upgrading of the Kumasi and Tamale Airports, among others.
‘Our vision is to position Ghana, both as an aviation hub within West Africa and as the preferred destination of choice for travellers.
“Government hopes to achieve this by working with the private sector to offer modern attractive air transport infrastructure and by building capacity and establishing institutional and policy framework to enhance safety and security of air services,’ he said.