The Second World War brought about tremendous destructions. However, it birthed technological and technical developments in many areas including the aviation sector. Fifty-two States signed the Chicago Convention, when it was concluded on the 7th December of that same year. Since then, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has been mandated to implement the goals and objectives of the said convention which englobes safety, air navigation capacity and efficiency, security and facilitation of the global civil aviation system, the economic development of air transport, as well as the protection of the environment.
Seychelles as a signatory to the Chicago Convention has delegated the role to SCAA to ensure compliance with ICAO requirements. Periodic audits are conducted every four years to ensure that we fulfill our objectives.
Health and Aviation
In regards to public health strict guidelines have been communicated and adhered to by airport and airline operators over the years.
However, the covid-19 situation is one without precedent. ICAO recommends a phased approach to enable the safe return to high-volume domestic and international air travel for passengers and cargos. The approach introduces a core set of measures to form a baseline aviation health safety protocol to protect air passengers and aviation workers from COVID-19. These measures will enable the growth of global aviation as it recovers from the current pandemic.
Our work must recognize the need to reduce public health risk while being sensitive to what is operationally feasible for airlines, airports and other aviation interests.
Whilst this pandemic has severely impacted upon us, especially in the aviation and tourism sectors, we must portray resilience, as we look at opportunities that it presented to us and reach out a helping hand to others who are sailing next to us in the same storm.
Is it hence in solidarity that the SCAA has been providing support to airlines by including waiver for all landing and parking fees for scheduled international operations by commercial airlines for the period April to December 2020.
Furthermore, the authority waivered all rentals, concessions due to SCAA for all airport tenants at the Seychelles International Airport and Praslin Airport for the period April to June 2020.
Through the relief measures the authority aims to create incentives to stimulate the market, facilitate resumption of operations and convey support to others in the aviation industry.
The value for those supportive measures amounts to approximately R30 Million yearly. To many of us this might seem to be too generous, at this point I would respectably echo the words of the first president of Mozambique: Samora Machel who once said that ‘Solidarity is not an act of charity, but mutual aid between forces fighting for the same objective.
It is in the most challenging times that men find ways to keep pushing forward through innovative ideas and actions in order for their business and industry not to collapse. In Seychelles we cannot enter the country without accessing Travizory, which is an online platform facilitating travel authorization, ensuring that travelers meet health, immigration, custom and security requirements, hence reducing any risks associated with border control.
SCAA has also fast tracked its security surveillance project, covering both Mahé and Praslin Airport, and is currently relooking at its priorities and means to finance its projects.
The government remains committed in supporting the SCAA’s investment programme whilst the authority explores innovative source of finance to ensure business continuity and sustainability for operations.
Despite the financial challenges, we need to uphold our commitment to security, safety and environment.
SCAA henceforth remains consistent in maintaining our facilities and repairing our equipment especially those critical for navigation aids and border control.
Priority has also been given to health safety this year, by purchasing state of the art equipment such as the latest thermal cameras. We invested heavily in educational materials for airport staff and passengers, and assiduously trained airport staff so that they are well-armed with confidence, and protective equipment to uphold their roles as front liners in the midst of the pandemic.
In terms of regulatory functions, we have witnessed more involvement of our safety regulators together with aircraft operators and manufacturers to facilitate carriage of freight in the cabin, allowing the national airline to fill in the vacuum left by other carriers.
The airport operator works very closely with the Public Health Authority to implement new procedures in compliance with new regulations.
Throughout this challenging time, we have managed to remain consistent in training our staff so that security standard is maintained.
Seychelles has been championing environmental initiatives by ICAO through its voluntary participation in a scheme known as CORSIA, which requires that SCAA reports to ICAO the CO2 emissions of airlines registered in Seychelles, which are conducting international flights. In August, SCAA approved and submitted to ICAO the first CO2 emissions report of Air Seychelles for the year 2019. The submitted report contains important data that would allow ICAO to calculate and determine the aviation sector’s CO2 growth factor, crucial in calculating the carbon offsetting requirements of States.
SCAA remains dedicated to its commitment to align its environmental objectives with national strategies as well as the vision of the aviation industry globally.
On the local scene, there has wherever feasible, the integration of green concepts in all new projects, such as installment of solar panels and water harvesting at some of its facilities, in the air, a flexible route approach has been adopted whereby the shortest route is taken by aircraft to reduce carbon emission.
To conclude, ICAO’s ongoing mission is to enable a global air transport network which surpasses the social and economic development and broader connectivity as established by its strategic objectives.
Whilst “Governments reserve their sovereign right to address a public health threat with whatever measures necessary to protect the lives of their citizens. It is also important that there is recognition of how dire the situation may become if air travel is not reasonably ensured.”
We are hopeful that the turbulence shall pass and we shall emerge as a resilient nation as long as we keep working together for the betterment of our livelihood and of our nation.