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Africa Expansion: A Key Universal Strategy

Expansion of its services in Africa is a key part of growth plans for Universal Aviation, the ground support division for Universal Weather & Aviation.

In two new developments, it will provide supervisory ground handling at all airports in Morocco from June 1, and at Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa airport (HAAB). Services will be full-time at Marrakech, Rabat and Casablanca, and on request at Fes, Agadir and Tangiers.

“We recognize the tremendous potential for business aviation in Africa, as well as the current operational challenges,” says Judith Milne, regional VP for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

“We’ve been asked by many operators to expand our capabilities in strategic but potentially difficult operating environments, such as Morocco and Ethiopa. Our plan is to meet that need by embedding locally-based ground handling agents at these strategic locations.”

Adds Milne: “We’re really following through with having our own people on the ground. We cannot support customers from a distance.”

Morocco was described this week by Ali Alnaqbi, founding chairman of the Middle East & North Africa Business Aviation Association (MEBAA), as a hub between Europe and Africa that logs about 8,500 business aviation movements a year despite having no licensed business jet operators, no FBOs and only very limited maintenance facilities. “It is ripe for the development of infrastructure, and the government is very supportive,” he commented. Universal’s provision of supervisory ground handling is a first step.

Milne notes that Ethiopia is also underdeveloped but will gain influence and business jet traffic with Addis Ababa as the seat of the African Union. Currently the airport has no real VIP facilities, so Universal will be working closely with Ethiopian Airlines to remove some of the complexity of ushering VIPs to their aircraft.

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