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Creating a civil aviation sector that goes in line with development

Interview - August 13, 2014
Secretary of Civil Aviation Mário Miguel Domingues talks about the development of the civil aviation sector in Angola, the national airline TAAG, and becoming an aviation hub for the region.
What can you tell us on the sector of the civil aviation in Angola? And what have been the most significant changes of the past years?

Sr. Mário Miguel Domingues (Sr. Domingues): I would like to mention two main components of the sector, starting with the regulatory body, namely the Instituto National da Aviação Civil (INAVIC). Representing as well the airport authority in Angola, it has gone through an enhancement process started in 2008 so as to better its functions: the regulatory body that provide operators such as airports and carriers with the required certifications; that controls the activities of the sector; and that guarantees operational safety, fights against illicit interferences and applies the rules and practices of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Even given this modernization program and technical empowerment the INAVIC has gone through, it remains permanently audited by the ICAO to correct occasional unconformities and to better its international credibility.

Another main actor is our national operator, namely TAAG. As most are aware of, the company remained blacklisted by the European Union until 2008 for not complying with specific regulations formulated by the ICAO. We made all the efforts to bridge the gaps detected during the audit, and we worked intensely so as to bring TAAG back to sufficient civil aviation safety levels. It has since then been taken out of the black list and, today, we are flying to various places in Europe, more precisely to Portugal. TAAG is still under a reconversion and stabilization process, with more equipment and a better positioning as a flagship that is able to compete with its counterparts.

What are the possibilities for TAAG to have flights on other international routes, including routes to the USA?

TAAG has all the qualifications required to fly anywhere, including to the USA. The ICAO and the IATA have successfully audited it and, most importantly, nothing is set to compromise its quality certification. The quality of its services has been levelled up in all of its components and the company has ordered new aircrafts and other equipments aiming at enhancing its overall level of quality.

TAAG has partnerships with external companies for specific services such as for the catering. It allows for the company to be excellent in its finances, its technical aspects and its operations.

Another important aspect is our infrastructure, including airports and other smaller terminals. A program has been designed to rehabilitate some and modernize others, to improve aircraft landings, and to link all our provinces by the air.

Given the great potential in Angola and in tourism, we couldn’t remain doing nothing to improve our infrastructure and we started with the construction of a new national and international airport. With greater capacity, we aim with this new airport to be a reference in Africa, a hub for the region and for European flights, for instance. We are in a more central location than South Africa, for example.

Such an airport can’t be profitable if there’s no flagship such as TAAG. The modernization of both components could only be done at the same time.

What is more to say is that our intentions are to create a civil aviation that goes in line with the economic development of all other areas of the country, tremendously investing in human capital, in technology and in the environment.

Civil aviation safety is an international issue, not only linked to the country, for which the ICAO has become a compulsory component in the safety of everyone.

Eventually, we started producing the legal framework necessary for the regulation of the civil aviation activities, first thing with the Civil Aviation Law in 2008, the rules for its execution and compulsory aeronautical technical norms.

What would be your message to trigger the confidence of the American audience in all what Angola has been achieving in civil aviation?

In 2001, the meeting with all the African Ministers of Transport took place in Angola. All the means to integrate all the countries were discussed through the Priority Action Plan of the Program for the Development of the Infrastructures in Africa. This is very important as a few countries are still lacking sufficient transportation infrastructures.

We hope the discussions among the African Ministers of Transport will lead to great results, to the development of the transportation infrastructures, and to the regional integration of the concerned countries. Angola has done a lot in terms of infrastructure and to level up its civil aviation, as previously said.

What kind of partnership could be beneficial to the civil aviation in Angola and the USA?

With no single doubt, the USA represent a strategic partner for us. Most notably, Boeing has provided the equipment we purchased for our national air carrier.

What would you think of a partnership between TAAG and General Electrics?

General Electrics has been active in Angola for many years now. It has served the national railways, more specifically with locomotives. However, a partnership between TAAG and General Electrics is beyond my competencies. What can be said is that American companies have always been the preferred partners for Angola, for their quality equipments and the guarantees of their technical assistance.

Where does your passion for civil aviation come from?

I studied law and am a lawyer. I studied in Angola and trained and did a few internships abroad, namely in Italy. However, I have been at ministerial positions for 20 years now, working as Secretary for Civil Aviation and at other positions in the Ministry of Transport. I have been for many years the Director of the Juristic Cabinet of the Ministry of Transport.

I’m not only passionate about civil aviation, but also about transport in general, including railways, ports and maritime transport, roads and the air. I was there when we created the basis for the regulation of the whole sector and headed issues in civil aviation, took part in conferences, workshops, meetings outside of the country, etc. I am passionate about civil aviation, but also for the other parts of the sector.