OBG talks to Dominique Oyinamono, Director-General, National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC)

Dominique Oyinamono, Director-General, National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC)

Interview: Dominique Oyinamono

What steps can be taken, since Gabon Airlines has been banned from flying?

DOMINIQUE OYINAMONO: For Gabon Airlines to resume operations, it will have to go back to square one to begin the administrative and technical procedures necessary to obtain authorisation to fly. Any airline subject to a suspension for more than six months or withdrawal of its air transport certificate must begin all procedures anew, as if it were a new company, before resuming activity.

How do you assess the impact of the EU blacklist on the aviation sector overall?

OYINAMONO: The impact is significant and goes beyond the air transport sector, affecting the Gabonese economy as a whole. First, 80% of Gabon’s territory is covered by forest and waterways. As a result, land routes are not well developed. Therefore, air transport has always been the best way to open up the hinterland, facilitating the movement of people and goods, and fostering socio-economic activity. Being blacklisted has had a tremendous impact on Gabon at all levels: our companies are prohibited from landing in Europe, so they do not have access to this market, and foreign airlines cannot make agreements with Gabonese firms. Furthermore, Westerners living in Gabon have been advised not to travel with local aviation firms. On the political level being blacklisted leaves a bad image of the country with international partners.

To what extent can Gabon’s aviation regulatory framework be improved to match global standards?

OYINAMONO: In an effort to meet global aviation standards, Gabon has followed and strives to comply with the standards set by the International Convention Of Civil Aviation, also known as the Chicago Convention, which was signed on December 7, 1944.

To get on back track, we are currently writing a new comprehensive set of regulations, some of which have already been partly adopted and published. A new civil aviation code is now in parliament, as the current one dates to 1965. Most new procedures are now in line with international regulations, and we have covered the most sensitive areas behind the blacklisting.

What steps were taken to address the blacklisting?

OYINAMONO: The EU blacklisted Gabon on the basis of the disastrous International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) audit results of May 2007. The EU requires that Gabon achieve a positive audit result, among other things, before the country can be removed from the blacklist. If the ICAO’s audit results are positive, there is no reason for Gabon to remain on the list.

The first response from the government was to close the Secrétariat Général à l’Aviation Civile et Commerciale and then to create ANAC, which is operationally independent, as per a recommendation of the ICAO. The second improvement is that, today, civil aviation has a head office, is connected on a global level and has the means to communicate. We managed to restore the authority over civil aviation operators, and some steps taken recently were not possible a few years ago. For instance, some firms have had their air transport certificates revoked. Additionally, the ICAO criticised the 2008 law that created the ANAC, for not giving it enough autonomy, and this was rectified with a new law that took effect on February 24, 2012.

What is the timeframe for the new Libreville airport and modernising Port-Gentil’s airport?

OYINAMONO: The timetable for Libreville’s new airport at Andème depends upon the results of exploratory studies that are being undertaken by a variety of partners. Therefore, for the time being, we cannot say what the actual timeframe for the development is. The Port-Gentil airport modernisation project has been high on the agenda for some time, as there is a need to expand the facilities’ capacity and because the city is Gabon’s economic capital. Extending the runway is a priority and will enable the airport to receive bigger aircraft like Airbus 320 and Boeing 767, which will help stimulate trade.

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The Report: Gabon 2012

Transport chapter from The Report: Gabon 2012

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