The AfBAC EXPO, Africa’s first three-day event dedicated to business aviation and RPAS, exceeded organiser’s expectations with just under 1000 delegates registering to attend the event held in Johannesburg, 29 November to 1 December. Attendees came from as far afield as New Zealand, Canada, the USA, Europe and the Middle East, to participate in three days of conference, exhibition, workshops, and static display held at ExecuJet’s Lanseria Airport facility.
Taking off with a one day conference 170 delegates from across the spectrum of business aviation debated the theme of African Business Aviation Evolution. Officially opening the event, Founding Chairman Tarek Ragheb highlighted the advancement of the Association as it marks its fifth year, explaining how it has become an organisation that helps grow business inside and outside the continent. He explained how initial scepticism has been replaced by genuine enthusiasm as demonstrated by the interaction and dynamism of event participants.
Ragheb also announced that he would be stepping down as Chairman as the search for a replacement begins. He explained, “When I first started putting this Association together I wanted to ensure that we had transparent and institutionalized corporate governance. I believe this is fundamental for any institution to grow and prosper. As such and in keeping with our charter I have established this institution, and faithfully guided it over the last five years, but it is time to hand over to a new Chairman.” The Association is now putting a process in place to establish a new Chairman, a role it anticipates filling within the next six months.
The event was given the gracious support of the South African Civil Aviation Authority with Poppy Khoza, the SA CAA Director, making the event’s key note speech. Talking about how Africa had moved from being a “hopeless” to “hopeful” continent with many opportunities for business aviation, Khoza urged the business aviation sector to think creatively about evolving the opportunities presented. “The need for stronger regulators and supportive governments are key for creating an environment for business aviation to thrive,” said Khoza. Her speech called for a consultative approach towards creating regulatory environments, improved standards, infrastructure development, and the need for consistency across the sector.
The recent addition of the Association to IBAC was underlined by a presentation from IBAC DG Kurt Edwards who presented the benefits of the CORSIA environmental programme, why and how it will impact the sector. Panels also debated issues relating to the theme of African Business Aviation Evolution. Case studies afforded an opportunity to establish pragmatic solutions for common challenges, discussion about stimulating market demand and the value of RPAS on the continent all made for a vibrant meeting.
The two days of EXPO saw 43 international exhibitors welcome visitors from across the industry. A series of workshops provided the opportunity for attendees to find out more about specific contemporary topics, whilst the static display showcased 11 rotary and fixed wing aircraft. Looking to the future Design Aviation thinking workshops inspired local school children considering aviation as a career. The event concluded with a typical South African Braai, which was attended by speakers, exhibitors, workshop hosts, and delegates alike.
“It is AfBAA’s role to bring together executives from across the sector to share and exchange valuable knowledge and information. We wanted to prove there is demand for a rounded convention in Africa, and what we have created is an outstanding foundation for years to come. We received a lot of positive feedback from delegates, exhibitors and conference attendees. I am extremely proud that we doubled our registration targets and delivered a professional experience,” said Rady Fahmy, AfBAA CEO.