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Addressing AFRICAN AVIATION Magazine’s First African Aviation Finance & Leasing Conference held in Cairo, Egypt, 16 years ago, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of US-based International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC), provided a crystal clear vision of how African airlines can succeed and prosper.

The contrasting fortunes of three African airlines – Kenya Airways, South African Airways and Nigeria Airways - provide a salutary lesson for Africa’s aviation and political leaders.

No airline in Africa can justly claim to have worked as hard and for as long as Ethiopian Airlines (ET) to bring Africa together. For the past 60 years, this pioneering airline has been driven by a Pan-African vision and zeal to develop air links across the continent, thereby facilitating travel, trade, tourism and economic development in Africa.

The recent spate of commercial airline accidents in Africa, with the attendant tragic loss of lives, has once again focused the world’s attention on the African aviation industry and the urgent need for the African continent to improve its air safety record.

The urgent need to reform and revitalise Nigeria’s potentially buoyant aviation industry was sharply driven home by two separate aircraft accidents towards the end of 2005. Both accidents involved privately-owned airlines and both resulted in a large loss of lives.

The impressive growth and success of Kenya Airways in the tough international airline industry continues to justify its proud claim to be 'The Pride of Africa.' The very focused and well-run national carrier of Kenya once again was unhesitatingly named 'African Airline of the Year' at the recent Annual African Aviation Awards Ceremony in Mauritius organised by AFRICAN AVIATION Magazine

The armed security personnel permanently guarding Virgin Nigeria’s solitary Airbus A320 aircraft sitting at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, indicate the problems besetting Nigeria’s proposed new flag-carrier, in which Virgin Atlantic Airways, UK, headed by Sir Richard Branson, has a 49% equity stake.

Financial autonomy has continued to elude the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) since it was established in the 1960s, in spite of the important role the Commission plays in promoting aviation development in Africa.

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