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Industry Interview with Roland Bosch, Messe Friedrichsafen

AVIPEO.COM had the chance to chat with Roland Bosch, Head of Aero and Member of the Board of Directors about a new planned exhibition in South Africa.

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Messe Friedrichshafen has announced that the global show for general aviation "AERO", which has been taking place at Lake Constance for over 40 years, is now also landing in South Africa thanks to a close partnership with Messe Frankfurt. From July 4 to 6, 2019, Messe Frankfurt South Africa, in cooperation with Messe Friedrichshafen, will put on the first AERO SOUTH AFRICA at the Woonderboom Airfield in Pretoria, South Africa.

Mr. Bosch, the Aero Friedrichshafen is an internationally well-known show for the General Aviation. Why did you decide to launch the Aero South Africa in 2019?

Organizer of AERO South Africa is Messe Frankfurt (MF) South Africa – a full subsidiary of Messe Frankfurt – one of the largest trade fair companies worldwide. Messe Frankfurt South Africa has got a lot of experience with South Africa and is hosting several very successful shows in different areas. A market analysis showed that there is a need for a GA show as existing shows cover mostly military and/or commercial aviation. As South Africa is a sizable country, fast connections outside the commercially covered routes are needed. Smaller airports and airstrips are essential for the economic growth of the region – especially from a tourism point of view. South Africa is also the gateway to the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa and thus AERO SA is key to grow GA and thus grow the economic power of the region.

Our readers might be interested in learning more about the first South African Aero. Could you provide us with some more information regarding the date, the venue and the exhibition concept?

Similar to the concept of AERO Friedrichshafen the focus of the show is General Aviation. That means smaller, non-military aircrafts from ultralights to 1-and 2 engine piston aircrafts up to business jets. But also, helicopters, avionics, maintenance and pilot supplies.  We must also mention Engineers in the area of supply chain. Display of the newest innovations is the main focus area of the Flying Display. An airshow with classic vintage planes is only a side topic.

Where do you see African and especially South African General Aviation market at the moment?

The markets in Africa are undoubtfully more challenging than Europe. We have different circumstances in terms of distances, economic outlook and political stability. However, we believe the African market has potential and if supported by political frameworks, the African market will grow and prosper. In practical terms, in order to achieve growth, the engineers, management and other staff has to get from A to B and sometimes the detour via traditional airlines is tedious and time consuming. Additionally, individual and exclusive tourism requires fast and convenient connections.

Why did you decide for South Africa and Pretoria?

As mentioned before, South Africa is a strong economic base and has got future potential. Pretoria is located in Gauteng and together with Johannesburg, this province is the economic heart of South Africa and thus Africa. There are fast and plenty of flight connections to Durban and Cape Town. Also Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and other African countries are in proximity. Wonderboom Airport is the ideal spot for a General Aviation trade fair as it has plenty of space, capacity and has got the necessary infrastructure for exhibitors and visitors alike.

According to the press release, you are partnering with the Messe Frankfurt. How does this cooperation look like?

Messe Frankfurt (MF) is the organizer of AERO South Africa. MF has got broad experience in organizing trade fairs internationally. MFN will support MF with regards to Sales and Marketing and is adding the longstanding experience of organizing the AERO Friedrichshafen.

Where do you expect differences between the European and the South African General Aviation market?

On the one side we see Europe as being more stable from an economic and political view. On the other hand South Africa does not have language barriers as everyone speaks English. The main focus will not be on leisure aviation but more in the area of commercial usage. In comparison to Europe we see that SA and Africa has got a weaker road and train infrastructure and thus aviation has got an enormous advantage.

In your press release, you stated that South Africa is a classic land of aviation. Could you explain this to our readers?

Look to America – the success is clearly driven by the fact that a large country can be travelled much faster by aircraft then by car or train. Also, for farmers and lodges does GA offer massive advantages. Time is playing a big part in this. In the past it was said „Time is Money“ and in today’s world time is even more important. We also observed, that the current aircrafts in South Africa are very old. Today there are much less expensive aircrafts available that are more efficient and with better performance. In this regard South Africa stood still over the past years. Thus, South Africa needs to upgrade the inventory.

Where do you see the African, and especially the South African General Aviation sector in five years?

This is a very tough question. If politicians wake up and understand, then South Africa is not the ‚lost‘ country like we see sometimes in the press. But it is a country with a future perspective. Look to Europe – we also have enormous challenges but due to an intact economy we guarantee broad spread wealth. This is the chance for SA. The GA is a small but significant part for a working economy because if you want to excite business in Africa the infrastructure has to be working at first.

Mr. Bosch, thank you very much for your time and this interview.

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