IATA highlights safety as its top priority

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has flagged air safety as a priority for the Middle East’s aviation industry.

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By  Barbara Cockburn Published  December 4, 2006

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has flagged air safety as a priority for the Middle East’s aviation industry. Speaking at the annual general meeting of the Arab Air Carrier’s Association (AACO), Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s chief executive officer and director general, explained that potential members were being banned unless they adhered to the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). The IOSA six-point plan is the first international standard for airline safety management audits and it will rationalise redundant auditing with a central database. During the AACO event, held in Kuwait, Sheikh Talal Al Mubarak Al Sabah, chairman and managing director at Kuwait Airways Corporation, was presented with an IOSA certificate. However, Bisignani expressed disappointment and embarrassment that ten carriers in the region were not in the process of acquiring a certificate, including four AACO members. “This is a concern for us. Our job is not only to set targets, but to help our members achieve them,” he said. “We have commitments from most of these to begin the process and we recognise that some will need some extra help for reasons ranging from security to lack of resources.” IATA is also working with airlines in Africa to improve safety records, which is something delegates at the event agreed must continue at full pace. “Over the last ten years the safety record has been bad and this has put Africa at the bottom of the list,” said Nasr Eldin M. Ahmed, managing director of Sudan Airways. “It’s going to be hard work to improve, but by working with IATA, African airlines will be able to comply with minimum standards. The government has taken a decision to privatise Sudan Airways. This is going to be a challenge and it will at least restore our market share in Africa,” he added.

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