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NBAA Hosts Reverse Trade Mission From Africa
August 6, 2012
A delegation from Africa paid a visit to NBAA headquarters last month while traveling around this country studying the U.S. business aviation industry.
“More and more companies want to travel to Africa,” said NBAA Senior Manager, Finance & Tax Policy Scott O’Brien. “There’s both real and potential growth there.”
Among the 10 delegates from across Africa was Francisca Susan Mashibe of Tanzanite Jet Centre, Ltd., one of the two NBAA International Operations Committee regional leads for Africa. Members of the delegation also traveled to Wichita, KS, where they visited general aircraft manufacturers, and visited several FBOs in Texas, before meetings in Washington with leaders of NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA).
“Their big challenge is learning how to deal with business flight operations,” O’Brien explained. “One goal of this reverse-trade mission is to help them become educated about our industry and what it needs to operate in Africa.”
O’Brien said the meeting was extremely productive. “They asked a lot of good questions, especially about how Members plan flights to Africa and how they use their aircraft to do business,” he said. “They wanted to understand the missions and the products. They left the room understanding a lot more about how it works.”
North American aircraft operators often take it for granted that the facilities they enjoy at home will be available worldwide, O’Brien said, but that may not be the case. In meeting with members of the African delegation, NBAA and GAMA representatives learned about ways to make trips to the region smoother.
“If you’re planning a trip to Africa right now, start a few months ahead of time, if possible,” O’Brien suggested. “You’ll need to fully investigate health issues like vaccinations. There are security issues that you need to thoroughly discuss with your international service provider, including matters of aircraft security while parked, as well as personnel security on the ground. Fuel and service availability are also major considerations. You may not find maintenance services in some areas. Ramp equipment could be a factor, and even the purity of the fuel you load while there should be considered.”
O’Brien stressed that the budding business aviation industry in Africa will need time to develop.
“NBAA, through ABACE [Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition] and EBACE [European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition] is really trying to reach out to countries not familiar with business aviation. And we’re making good strides. We may not see an immediate payoff, but this meeting and others like it make for a good start.”