Connectivity restrictions on Africa's Air Transport Linkages Guy Leitch - PhD Proposal.

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Guy Leitch
Interconnectivity restrictions on Africa’s air
transport linkages
Da Vinci Institute
Student No 9992
Leo24 PhD
PhD Proposal
15 November 2017.
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Guy Leitch: Student Number 9992
PhD Leo 24
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Contents
PART 1:
INTRODUCTION - THE CONTEXT OF THE STUDY .................................. 4
1.1
The Hoped-for African Economic Growth ............................................................................. 4
1.2
Air Connectivity and African Economic Growth .................................................................... 5
1.3
Combining Key Concepts – towards an innovative conceptual model. ................................. 6
PART 2:
ONTOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE............................................................... 8
2.1
Researcher’s Background and Thesis Genesis ...................................................................... 8
2.3
Researcher’s World View ..................................................................................................... 8
PART 3:
PROBLEM STATEMENT ..................................................................... 11
PART 4:
THE AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THIS STUDY ........................................ 12
4.1
The aim of this study:......................................................................................................... 12
4.2
Objectives of the Study: ..................................................................................................... 12
4.2.1 Primary Objective: ............................................................................................................... 12
4.2.2 Secondary Objectives: ......................................................................................................... 12
PART 5:
THE RESEARCH QUESTION ............................................................... 13
5.1
The primary research question: ......................................................................................... 13
5.2
The secondary research questions: .................................................................................... 13
5.3. Overview: Problem statement – Research Questions and Objectives ...................................... 13
5.3
Determining the quality of the research question: ............................................................. 13
5.4
Is it the Right Question? ..................................................................................................... 15
PART 6:
EPISTEMOLOGY ................................................................................ 17
6.1
Broad Epistemological Constructs: Is Aviation Positivist or Subjectivist? ........................... 17
6.2
Pragmatism, Theory and Practice ....................................................................................... 18
6.3
Epistemology Resolution - towards Social Constructionism ............................................... 18
6.4
Critical Theory and a ‘Burning Issue’ .................................................................................. 20
PART 7:
THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK ............................................................. 22
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7.1
The Literature Review ........................................................................................................ 22
7.2
A Broad Theoretical Framework ........................................................................................ 22
7.3
Application to the African Airline Industry ......................................................................... 24
7.5
Phenomenological aspects ................................................................................................. 27
7.6
Ethnology Aspects .............................................................................................................. 28
7.7
Literature review as a proxy for theory .............................................................................. 28
7.7.1 Inductive theory .................................................................................................................. 29
7.7.2 Abductive theory ................................................................................................................. 29
7.8
Structure of Literature Review ........................................................................................... 29
PART 8
CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK.............................................................. 31
8.1
Overview of Key Concepts ................................................................................................. 31
8.2
Competitive Advantage:.................................................................................................... 32
8.3
Gravity Model of Trade ...................................................................................................... 32
8.4
Air Connectivity Index ........................................................................................................ 33
8.5
Global Value Chains (GVCs) ............................................................................................... 34
PART 9:
RESEARCH DESIGN ............................................................................ 35
9.1
Addressing the Research Questions ................................................................................... 35
9.2
Review of the Literature .................................................................................................... 37
9.3
The Structure of the Research ............................................................................................ 37
9.4
Sampling ............................................................................................................................ 38
PART 10:
RESEARCH METHODS........................................................................ 40
10.1.
Transferability of the Study................................................................................................ 41
10.2
Academic peer review........................................................................................................ 42
10.3
Autoethnography Validity .................................................................................................. 43
10.4. Data Analysis ..................................................................................................................... 43
10.4.1
Extent of data and number of variables ......................................................................... 43
10.5
Ethical considerations ........................................................................................................ 44
10.5.1
Interviews ....................................................................................................................... 44
PART 11
CONCLUSION TO THE PROPOSAL ...................................................... 45
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ANNEXURE 1: OVERVIEW OF THESIS BY CHAPTER...................................................... 46
ANNEXURE 2: OVERVIEW OF STRUCTURE OF THESIS .................................................. 47
ANNEXURE 3: PROPOSAL REFERENCES.................................................................... 48
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PART 1:
INTRODUCTION - THE CONTEXT OF THE STUDY
A mile of highway will take you just one mile. But a
mile of runway will take you everywhere! (unknown)
1.1
The Hoped-for African Economic Growth
The ‘African Renaissance’ of good economic growth was expected to have begun within a
few years after the global financial crisis of 2008 (Gumede 2013). According to the African
Development Bank (ADB) and Alena and Giovannetti (2011), this hoped for renaissance was
based on a variety of external global factors that would push investment into Africa, and
internal factors that would pull or attract investment into Africa (ADB 2009). Post the 2008
market crash, investors looked for alternative investment avenues, many of which were in
the developing world. World Bank (2013) and Allena and Giovannetti (2011).
Investors continuously search for new and better investment opportunities. In this regard,
the concept of ‘plenism’ is useful (Dugas 1988). As described by Dugas, Aristotle is believed
to have first coined the phrase ‘horror vacui’, (the concept of plenism), which loosely
translated has come to be known as ‘nature abhors a vacuum’ Dugas (1988). After the 2008
crash, a fresh appreciation of Africa’s investment potential sprang up, as evidenced by
extensive features on Africa’s prospects in publications such as The Economist and Time
magazines – amongst others, as shown in the images below:
Fig 1. The hope for an African renaissance.
The significant drivers of the fresh appreciation of Africa’s potential as an investment
destination were, according to the World Bank study (2013) based on;
A) The growth opportunities created by Africa’s rapidly growing 1,27 billion population.
B) The boom of the commodity super-cycle of the early 2010’s demand for raw
materials – many of which are produced from within Africa.
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In terms of population growth, it was noted that Africa’s population is already on a par with
India at 1.3 billion and China’s 1.37 billion, (World Bank; 2013), but that Africa’s population
is growing faster and will soon overtake India and China’s.
According to this World Bank (2013) study, this large population is in turn seen to present
two key growth opportunities:
Firstly; after years of civil war and bad governance there was a high expectation that the
outbreak of peace in countries such as Angola and Sudan would enable strong economic
recovery, albeit off a low base. In particular, the restoration of stable governance would allow
the exploitation of natural resources, particularly the oil, gas and minerals demanded by the
then dominant commodity super-cycle.
Secondly; the restoration of stable government, in countries such as Rwanda and Southern
Sudan, would create an essential platform for the emergence of an African middle class which
was expected to spur consumer demand that would further drive economic growth, (World
Bank 2013).
These factors, plus numerous others beyond the ambit of this introduction, laid the
groundwork for a period of expected economic growth greater than that offered by the First
World economies.
However, in the nine years since the 2008 economic crisis, the much hoped-for African
Renaissance has largely failed to live up to its growth potential, as anticipated by Gilley
(2010).
It is postulated that one of the possible reasons the economic growth may have been
constrained is due to a lack of transport connectivity, specifically air transport.
This thesis therefore investigates the effectiveness or otherwise of the
African airline industry as a key enabler of African economic growth.
1.2
Air Connectivity and African Economic Growth
Africa is large – about three times bigger than the United States – and the vast distances are
compounded by poor land based infrastructure. Due largely to a lack of investment, roads
are crumbling and rail service is sparse and unreliable, (Ishutkina and Hasnmnan 2009).
It became evident to this researcher that economic development requires effective transport
to bring together the various inputs for economic production, being commodities, labour,
skill and capital. However, the African post-colonial legacy is one of inadequate and
inappropriate transport, (Austin 1987) (Tambi 2011).
Writers such as Austin (1987) point out that road and rail links in Africa have been
underdeveloped, and have in many cases deteriorated since independence. Austin (1987)
further points out that due to the colonial legacy, the ground based transport infrastructure
was not fit for the purpose of intra-African trade as it had been designed and built for the
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simple exploitation of mineral resources by transporting primary production, such as raw
materials, to ports, for export to the colonial states.
For Africa to grow economically, it has been argued by writers such as Ishutkina and Hasnman
(2009) that the continent needs to develop intra-African trade and not be dependent on the
low value-add of exporting primary production. In the absence of a developed and efficient
ground based transport infrastructure, air transport has a vital role to play in African
economic growth. However, researchers such as Bofinger, (2016) and (IATA, 2016a) argue
that African airlines are failing as an industry:
The aetiology of this failure is considered worthy of an in-depth synoptic
study that will seek to identify the key problems of the African airline
industry. This will be largely sourced from a review of the literature. The
identified problems will be noted at the end of each chapter of the thesis
and then be prioritised for remediation by airline managers and owners.
It is a central proposition of this thesis that one of the key reasons for Africa’s failure to live
up to its growth potential is the continent’s inadequate transport infrastructure (Tambi
2011), (Chuula, 2017), Tyler (2015) - both on the ground and in the air, (Note; these
statements about Africa generally exclude Northern Africa and South Africa, unless
specifically mentioned.)
1.3
Combining Key Concepts – towards an innovative conceptual model.
It is noted by African airline industry analysts such as Bofinger (2016) that effective transport
infrastructure is needed for economic growth in Africa. A key purpose of this thesis will be to
expand on this notion by adapting, synthesising and applying four largely discrete key
concepts to assessing African air transport connectivity. These four concepts are:
1.
2.
3.
4.
The Theory of Competitive Advantage (Porter 1990)
The Air Connectivity Index (Sydor 2011)
The Gravity Theory of Trade (Chaney 2013)
Global Value Chains (Arvis, Saslansky, Ojala, Shepherd, Busch, Raj and Naula 2016)
These four concepts will be more fully introduced in the discussion in this proposal on
Conceptual Frameworks.
It will be shown that, for Africa to compete internationally and grow, the continent must
participate in Global Value Chains. To do so, according to agencies such as the Organisation
for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD 2011), and the International Air
Transport Association (IATA) (in a paper by Shepherd, Singal and Raj, 2016), that the
continent needs sufficient capacity in its transport networks, of which air travel has become
the most important (OECD, 2017, Tambi, 2011 and Negota, 2011).
As will be covered in the Literature Review, writers such as Negota (2011), point out that
road and rail transport linkages in Africa are underdeveloped. Thus, Tambi (2011) and Negota
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(2011) argue that, in the absence of effective and sufficient capacity in the continent’s road
and rail infrastructure, one of the specific reasons for Africa’s failure to fulfil its potential is
the weakness of the African airline industry. They point out that effective transport is
necessary for the movement of the labour, goods and services necessary for economic
development, (Shepherd Singal and Raj, 2016).
The postulated consequences of the insufficient transport capacity will be quantifiably
assessed in this thesis. This will then assess the importance – or otherwise – of air
connectivity on Africa’s Global Value Chain participation, and thus on the continent’s
economic growth.
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PhD Leo 24
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PART 2:
ONTOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
“If you can’t get there, you can’t trade there.”
US Transportation Secretary Rodney E Slater. (quoted by
Considine, 2013)
2.1
Researcher’s Background and Thesis Genesis
The development and design of this thesis and its methodology have been largely derived
from a combination of the researcher’s various career experiences: initially in social and
community development, and then, over the past twelve years, in general aviation and the
African airline industry, in particular.
The researcher began his career by working for an NGO in low-income housing policy and in
particular housing finance. In the late 1980s and early 1990s he was a low-income housing
developer in pre-political transition South Africa. He has thus had a grounding in social
development, underpinned by a post-graduate Diploma in Development Planning and an
MSc in Community Based Housing Finance Mechanisms.
The relevant ‘second half’ of the researcher’s career began in aviation some twelve years ago
when he acquired a general aviation magazine to publish and later edit. This developed into
an interest in the African airline industry and, in particular, its role as a key development
component, and one that appears often overlooked or taken for granted in the sense that
transport linkages are considered a ‘sine qua non’ for effective commerce and trade.
This thesis therefore combines the researcher’s two careers and abiding interests:
development and aviation.
2.3
Researcher’s World View
Any study that presumes to be anything but descriptive of the African airline industry is
necessarily predicated on a specific world view. The researcher’s world view, or alternatively
value set, then determines the ontology that informs this thesis.
Ontologically, this study is based on a commercial paradigm where a desirable outcome is
economic sustainability. As will be discussed, it is a core value of this thesis that the African
airline industry needs to be profitable if it is to be sustainable and grow its capacity as a
provider of essential connectivity for economic enterprise. It is a sine qua non that a
sustainable enterprise implies profitability or, arguably in the case of state owned airline
operations, at least justifiable trading losses.
In terms of conventional economic transport theory, as propounded by the World Bank
(2013), Karnik (1996) and, at an industry specific level, by the International Air Transport
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Association (IATA – in Tyler 2015), there is broad agreement as to what the requirements are
for a successful airline industry.
The basis for this broad agreement is to be found in the existence of a generally agreed set
of pre-conditions for a successful business. Note though, that it is recognised that there is a
possible exception to this, in that some may argue (Karnik 1996) that a business trading loss
of some, to be specified, magnitude is acceptable, given the essential transportation
development role of airlines. This will be dealt with as an exception to the broad economic
consensus that for a business to be successful it must be profitable.
It is recognised that values are inherently subjective and as per classical Marxism,
fundamentally irreducible (Fine 2013). No attempt will therefore be made in this proposal to
validate the ontological framework.
The researcher’s key ontological assumptions informing this study are that:

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





Economic growth is desirable, primarily because it has the ability to raise living
standards.
An economy is not a finite entity where the ‘losers’ pay the ‘winners’ in what may be
described as a zero-sum game. Rather it is a dynamic entity that can and should be
grown.
No nation can exist independently of other nations. Globalisation and being
competitive on the world stage is a fundamental pre-requisite for economic growth
as it allows a nation to grow on the back of its competitive advantage.
For economic growth to benefit the entire society, government intervention is
necessary. This intervention is required to strengthen wealth ‘trickle down’ effects
and to create additional wealth distribution channels so that the wealth that accrues
to the successful will eventually reach the poorest.
Competition is better than protectionism.
However, the unrestrained competition of ‘laissez-faire’ free-market capitalism is
undesirable as it increases the gap between the rich and poor – the ‘Gini coefficient’.
A high Gini coefficient is in turn unsustainable as it can create the economic
preconditions for a classical Marxian socialist revolution.
A socialist economic revolution is undesirable as history has shown that collective
ownership of the means of production removes the drive of the profit motive, and is
then antithetical to economic growth.
Although forced direct redistribution of wealth may be necessary for the upliftment
of the poorest, this is undesirable as it is perceived to punish the successful – who
will then take their skills in wealth production elsewhere.
For this reason, it is better to create wealth by growing an economy, rather than
attempting to redistribute its finite resources.
In summary then the researcher’s ontological perspective is one in favour of pragmatic,
socially conscious capitalism, where in essence, the society needs economic growth, rather
than forced redistribution, to uplift the poor.
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Derived from these values and assumptions is an ontology that limits the postulates and thus
enables the elimination of many of the variables that might otherwise cloud the research.
The ontology may be broadly visualised as follows:
Fig 2. The Proposed Ontological Framework for Sustainable Economic Enterprise.
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PART 3:
PROBLEM STATEMENT
The problem that this study aims to address is:
The apparent failure of the African airline industry to provide the necessary
connectivity to support African economic growth.
Implicit in this problem statement is a knowledge gap of how to optimise the African airline
industry. As described in the ontological considerations, it is assumed that rational
management and airline owners would want to create an airline that both operates
sustainably, has the resources to grow to meet increased demand, and fulfils its role of
providing the necessary transport connectivity to enable broader economic growth.
However, the reality has proven to be almost diametrically opposite. Almost all state-owned
African airlines have been operating at a loss (Intervistas, 2013), (IATA 2017) (Schlumberger
2010) that makes them unsustainable in the long term and that has inhibited their growth,
and thus their ability to meet their economy’s connectivity requirements (ATAG, 2016).
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PART 4:
4.1
THE AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THIS STUDY
The aim of this study:
To assess the role of the African airline industry in the continent’s
economic growth
4.2
Objectives of the Study:
4.2.1
Primary Objective:
To identify and examine the weaknesses of the African airline industry.
4.2.2
Secondary Objectives:
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
To undertake a comparison and analysis of selected African airlines in order to
explain the key challenges determining their effectiveness as a transportation
mode.
To assess the effects of liberalisation and foreign competition on the African
airline industry.
To derive a model to describe the extent to which the identified weaknesses
of the African airline industry have inhibited African economic growth.
To devise a best practice proposal to strengthen the African airline industry.
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PART 5:
5.1
THE RESEARCH QUESTION
The primary research question:
What measures will make the African airline industry more effective?
5.2
The secondary research questions:
1.
2.
3.
4.
What are the weaknesses of the African airline industry?
What will be the effect of foreign competition on African airlines?
What will be the effect of ‘open skies’ liberalisation?
Will increased competition further weaken African airlines and thus increasingly
externalise essential transport links?
5. If the airlines respond positively, to what extent will their growth deliver a multiplier
effect on the broader African economy?
6. What best-practice strategies could be devised to strengthen the African airline
industry?
5.3. Overview: Problem statement – Research Questions and Objectives
The problem that this study aims to address is:
The apparent failure of the African airline industry to provide the necessary connectivity to support African economic growth.
Research Questions
Research Objectives
1 The Primary Research Question:
1 Primary Objective:
To identify and examine the weaknesses of the African airline industry in order to
answer the Primary Research Question.
What measures will make the African airline industry more effective?
2 The secondary research questions:
2 Secondary Objectives:
To undertake a comparison and analysis of the various African airlines in order to explain the
key challenges determining their effectiveness as an transportation mode.
To review and synthesise, and where possible update, the various empirical studies on the
2.2. What is the economic impact of the African airline industry?
2.2.
role of air transport.
What conceptual framework best describes the effectiveness of the
To combine four discrete concepts into a synoptic theory that describes the role of the African
2.3.
2.3.
African airline industry?
airline industry in African trade
2.1. What are the weaknesses of the African airline industry?
2.1.
2.4. What will be the effect of foreign competition on African airlines?
2.4. To assess the effects of liberalisation and foreign competition on the African airline industry.
2.5. What will be the effect of ‘open skies’ liberalisation?
2.5.
2.6.
To derive a model to describe the extent to which the identified weaknesses of the African
airline industry have inhibited African economic growth.
What best-practice strategies could be devised to strengthen the
2.6. To devise a best practice proposal to strengthen the African airline industry.
African airline industry?
Further possible questions:
Further Possible Objectives
1 If the airlines respond positively, to what extent will their growth
deliver a multiplier effect on the broader African economy?
2 Will increased competition further weaken African airlines and thus
increasingly externalise essential transport links?
5.3
1 Using the data derived in 2.2 (above) calculate a possible economic growth multiplier from
airline growth
Using the model derived in 2.5 (above) and CEO inteviews, determine if African airlines will be
2
able to compete with large external airlines.
Determining the quality of the research question:
In terms of the ‘FINER’ model criteria most accessibly described by Hulley, Cummings
Browner, Grady and Newman (2007), research questions should meet the following criteria:
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
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Feasibility:
A significant body of literature exists on the airline industry and specifically the
strengths and weaknesses of the African airline industry. This will provide the
researcher with a sound basis to assess the effectiveness of the industry. Further,
the International Airline Transport Association (IATA) has commissioned, useful
quantitative analyses that will form an empirical basis for assessing connectivity
impairment and its consequences on African economic growth.
Interest:
Airline transport holds a strong fascination for many, so the subject should be
inherently interesting. Further, the role air transport plays in providing essential
connectivity for the conduct of trade and business is key to Africa’s development,
and this makes the topic relevant. Additionally, the thesis researcher has excellent
access to key decision makers such as airline CEOs and heads of regulators, and this
will provide unique insights.
Novel:
An in-depth yet synoptic survey of the apparent weaknesses of the African airline
industry has been seldom, if ever, conducted due to the depth and complexities of
the subject matter. The analysis of the information gathered from the survey has
not, as far as the researcher can ascertain, been applied to addressing the
knowledge gap at an industry level to determine the best route to ameliorate the
shortcomings and in so doing, identify the requirements for a successful airline
operation in Africa. (It may however have been applied to proprietary
commissioned studies for specific airlines by consultants).
Further, the researcher’s proposal to integrate four key conceptual frameworks,
namely:
i.
Competitive advantage
ii.
The Air Connectivity Index
iii.
The Gravity theory of Trade
iv.
Global Value Chains
Is believed to be original research and thus fulfil the ‘Novel’ requirement.
Ethical?
The proposed course of research is not expected to pose any ethical problems and
where value judgements form part of the research, they are considered in the
ontology discussion. This will briefly consider the impact of applying efficient
business principles to an arguably dysfunctional industry that may then imply the
loss of jobs.
Relevant?
As has been discussed in the Context section of this proposal, the African continent
is home to around 1,3 billion people who are evidently being systematically
underdeveloped, and in many cases impoverished, by the failure of their
economies to grow at least as fast as the population growth rates. Airline transport
linkages will be shown to be key to the trade which underpins economic enterprise,
and as a consequence of the inadequacy of road and rail transport linkages, airline
connectivity is expected to bridge the transport gap. Thus, the described failure of
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the airline industry to meet this need can be considered relevant to the wellbeing
of a billion people.
5.4
Is it the Right Question?
For those such as Farrnoff, Mavin, Bates and Murray (2012) who hold to the historical view
that aviation studies should be fundamentally positivist, the statistician, Tuckey, (1962), said
in a now classic aphorism, “far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is
often vague, than the exact answer to the wrong question, which can always be made
precise.”
The derivation of the right question is thus essential. The key challenge in a research proposal
then is to nail down the research question and to do this, Stanford (2016) posits that it is
helpful to develop the question as a thesis, antithesis and synthesis discussion, using the
model of Socratic dialogue as the basis for a Hegelian Dialectic:
Thesis:

The African aviation industry is largely unprofitable and therefore unsustainable
over the long term, despite the inherent demand for a healthy airline industry to
meet the economic growth potential of Africa (Datta 2006).
Antithesis:
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African airlines are, with few exceptions, state owned and their economic health
is irrelevant as they perform an essential public transport function that
transcends profitability (Karnik 1996).
African airlines are necessarily subject to developmental government agendas
that range from the requirement to be a ‘flag carrier’ and thus fly to prominent
destinations for status reasons, to providing employment opportunities (Karnik
1996).
To protect their airlines, African states are rationally opposed to implementing
an ‘open skies’ policy as espoused by the Yamoussoukro Declaration and the
granting of ‘fifth freedom’ rights (Intervistas 2013).
The airlines’ rational opposition to ‘open skies’ will continue to mitigate against
the increasing opportunities for worldwide cooperation (Ishutkina and Hasnman,
2009).
Synthesis:
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
With few exceptions, the African continent is served by weak, dangerous and
loss-making airlines, or else none at all. (IATA 2017)
Yet globally, airlines are predatorily seeking out new markets, particularly those
currently occupied by weak or inefficient airlines. The three Gulf Carriers and
other airlines have seen the opportunity presented by weak African airlines and
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
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are rapidly beginning to dominate inter- and intra- African transport links,
(African Development Bank Group 2012).
African airlines can only survive by implementing sound management practices,
forming alliances, and through being strengthened by competition (African
Development Bank Group 2012).
Addressing both the intrinsic and extrinsic problems faced by African airlines will
improve their safety and economic viability, (Aviation Week 2016)
Economic viability will enable the necessary private and public-sector investment
for sustainability and growth (ATAG 2016).
Sustainable airlines are needed to provide the required transport
interconnectivity for the expected economic growth, (Bofinger 2016).
Conversely, without the transformation of the airline industry, the African
Renaissance will be stunted and largely still-born. (Considine 2013).
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PART 6:
6.1
EPISTEMOLOGY
Broad Epistemological Constructs: Is Aviation Positivist or Subjectivist?
As will be more fully expanded upon in this proposal, aviation is a complex mix of technical,
organisational and social relationships.
This thesis is mostly about the more qualitative issues relating to management philosophies
and practices. If this research is to be comprehensive and capable of appreciating the more
subjective or qualitative nuances of human behaviour, particularly regarding airline
management, it must of necessity, focus more on qualitative than quantitative research
methodologies. This will be more fully discussed in the methodology rationale.
For some observers of the industry, this may be counter intuitive. Thus, Farrnoff, Mavin,
Bates and Murray (2012) note that a quantitative research methodology is a logical choice
for research in an evolved technical industry. These observers consider the aviation industry
to be a fundamentally high technology enterprise. For these there is therefore an inclination
towards positivism as the dominant research mode.
Ethnologically it may be noted that in the back of the researcher’s mind is always the
existential possibility that some authority figures may have an inherently nihilistic, or an
extreme short-term, view of industry, as outlined in the ‘Antithesis’ description of the
Research Question discussed in Para 5.4 of this proposal. However, due to the complex
aetiology of this anti-growth and development perspective, with its roots in what may be
presumed to be extreme self-interest (Bayart 2014), this is considered a more complex
proposition than the more ‘simple’ considerations of building a business based on
profitability, and generally accepted sustainable business principles. For this reason, this
thesis will employ the ‘Occams Razor’ principle (Gibbs 1996) to reduce the number of
competing hypotheses.
Thus, from the above discussion about short term gains from nihilistic business practices and,
as has being outlined in the thesis and antithesis discussion, it is posited that there are
multiple realities or lenses to view the African airline industry.
To accommodate the possibilities arising from these multiple realities, and in particular, the
limitations inherent in the writer’s own ontology with its bias on sustainable business
practices, the overriding epistemology for this thesis will therefore be interpretivist, as per
Burrell and Morgan (1979).
The interpretivist paradigm will be relevant in that, as will be discussed later in this proposal,
a primary source of data gathering for the best practice model of airline management will be
interviews with key industry leaders. This then infers a transactional or subjectivist
epistemology.
But it will not be practical to attempt to accommodate every hypothetical perspective in the
discussion of each identified weakness (or challenge) facing the African airline industry. To
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reduce the number of competing perspectives, this thesis will use the Summa Theologica
argument of Thomas Aquinas, who stated that, "It is superfluous to suppose that what can
be accounted for by a few principles, has been produced by many" (McKeon 1963).
This implies the paring down of the aetiology – as envisaged by Occam’s razor, which broadly
uses Aristotle’s principle of ‘ceteris paribus’ or ‘other things being equal’ as described by
McKeon (1963) to ‘razor off’ the less likely causes in the induction of conclusions.
It should however be re-emphasised that there are some aetiological insights that will not be
‘razored off’. Thus, for the purposes of balance and completeness, the study will include a
brief review, from a broadly socialist development perspective, of the postulated failings of
post-colonial African development.
6.2
Pragmatism, Theory and Practice
The airline industry is characterised by its high capital requirements and low margins (African
Development Bank Group 2012), (Bofinger 2016). This makes it particularly intolerant of
weak or poor management practices. In addition, it is technology intensive, in that it relies
on high tech equipment (aircraft and navigation aids) and the latest information technology
for management, such as yield management systems. This means that any presumptive
approach to developing best practice strategies must of necessity be fundamentally
pragmatic if they are to be taken seriously by airline management (Mavin 2011).
6.3
Epistemology Resolution - towards Social Constructionism
Aviation is not exclusively about positivist, quantifiable metrics, such as aircraft performance
and airline balance sheets. It also has a strong grounding in the more subjective, qualitative
issues, relating to management philosophies and practices. This thesis therefore needs to be
located between the two extremes of positivism and subjectivism.
To appreciate the positioning of this study between positivism and subjectivism, it is worth
pointing out that positivism aims to use empirical measurement to remove the subjectivity
inherent in the perspective vagaries of human interpersonal relationships. On the other end
of the scale, subjectivism posits that all meaning is derived from personal experience and
social interaction. Farrnoff et al (2012) therefore argue the case for what they consider to be
the middle ground of social constructionism.
It is therefore proposed that the best research epistemological perspective for this thesis
will be located somewhere between the two extremes of positivism and subjectivism in a
continuum that Crotty (1998) describes as Social Constructionism.
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Figure 3 : Epistemological theories of knowledge (as modified by Farrnoff et al 2012 p.3)
Crotty (1998) proposes that social constructionism provides a useful design to study
organisational and personal interaction. Using social constructionist theories, subjects and
objects are not considered separately. Crotty (1998) argues that social constructionism does
not hold to the subjective view that humans are responsible for all outcomes, and neither
does it expect the all-but-impossible ideal that all research be empirically water-tight and
thus leave no room for subjective human deduction.
Quantitative assessments will be conducted of the economic impact of the African airline
industry on their country-specific and regional economic growth. Yet the empirical economic
data cannot be viewed in isolation, without reference to the qualitative underlying political
and social forces acting on the airlines.
This will be the focus of this study, and will be expounded in terms of phenomenological
research based on personal interviews and on analysis of the body of literature that
surrounds the problems and weaknesses of the African airline industry.
It may be argued that this ‘middle ground approach’ risks falling between the two stools of
positivism and subjectivism. To prevent this, a multi-method or hybrid research methodology
is proposed, as per Creswell, Clark, Gutmann and Hanson (2003). Note however that this will
not be a classic mixed-methods approach. It will be argued that although mixed methods
research requires a hypothesis, as suggested in the Hegelian dialectic outlined in Chapter 1,
a multi-methods approach is more suitable to the descriptive nature of this study as it is not
amenable to the constraints of the specific hypothesis requirement of mixed methods
(Tashakkori and Teddlie, 2003).
For the purposes of this multi-methods approach, the work of Bolman and Deal (1997) is
helpful for reframing the research problem from multiple viewpoints to create a more
synoptic analysis. Drawing on Burrell and Morgan’s (1982) work to combine ontological and
epistemological frameworks should enable a better understanding of interpersonal
relationships. This is useful to appreciate the finer aspects of the forces determining the
evolution of the African airline industry. Further, Bolman and Deal (1997) observe that this
frame combination is not limited to an understanding of the forces acting on an organisation,
but it may also be used to include individuals’ interaction with others. This may then be useful
for examining the interrelationships between individuals such as CEOs and their subordinate
managers, perhaps in the light of the currently popular Dunning Kruger effect, (Kruger
Dunning 1999), where it is postulated that the incompetent do not have the insight to know
that they are incompetent, combined with the evergreen Peter Principle (Lazear 2000),
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where it is postulated that that organisations promote their managers to the one level above
their level of competence.
6.4
Critical Theory and a ‘Burning Issue’
Arising from the Da Vinci’s Institute’s position as a mode 2 educational institution and the
resultant need to have ‘a work based challenge’ or ‘a burning issue’ is a desire to make this
research useful, and hopefully helpful, to airline owners and management. This means that
the research must be prepared to critically confront the identified inadequacies or
weaknesses of the African airline industry.
As noted, the airline industry is a high technology, skill and capital-intensive industry. It is
postulated by writers such as Considine (2013), Karnik (1996) and Bofinger (2016) that a
broad variety of dysfunctional management and owner practices have weakened the African
airline industry to the point where it is no longer able to fulfil its primary purpose of providing
connectivity for African economic growth, IATA (2016).
The research question: “What measures will make the African airline industry more
effective?” – is one that has implicit in it the Critical Theory approach developed by the
Frankfurt School. Critical Theory aligns with mode 2 research in that it is actualised by the
expectation that once the weaknesses have been identified, assessed and understood, it will
be possible to derive a best practise intervention to improve the industry.
As stated in the ontological review, the researcher is more action (praxis) than theory
oriented. The notion of a study limited to the weakness of the African airline industry is
therefore deemed insufficient, and thus the theory will be articulated with the broader
underlying political and economic bases for the industry and the ‘zeitgeist’ of political
dispensations in which it operates.
For any attempt to derive measures to make the African airline industry more effective, it is
necessary to position the industry within the broader African economic framework and
specifically, the industry’s relationship with government and politics.
At a high level, the classical Marxian notion of politics being a superstructure to the economy
was re-examined by the Critical Theorists such as Habermas (1974) and creates a useful
conceptualisation of a dynamic articulation (in both the sense of an articulated truck and of
verbal expression) of politics around the nexus of economic activity, particularly at the state
level. The researcher proposes that the relationship between the African airline industry and
its host governments is arguably the apogee (and certainly one of the most high-profile
examples) of such an articulation between industry and politics.
The practical outcome of this thesis is then expected to address the research question by
providing a road map for the improvement and expansion of the African airline industry.
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It is noted that this emphasis on ‘praxis’ is closely interrelated with the researcher’s ontology
of pragmatic, socially conscious capitalism, where in essence, you need growth rather than
forced redistribution to uplift the poor.
As introduced in the ontological review and précised below, the researcher inter-alia holds
the view that:




An economy is not a finite entity where the ‘losers’ pay the ‘winners’ in a zero-sum
game. Rather, it is a dynamic entity that can, and should, be grown.
Growth is desirable, primarily because it has the ability to raise the living standards
of the entire society – and not just the winners.
Globalisation and being competitive on the world stage is a fundamental prerequisite for growth, as it allows a nation to grow on the back of its competitive
advantage.
For economic growth to benefit the entire society, government intervention is
necessary. This intervention is required to strengthen wealth ‘trickle down’ effects
and to create additional wealth distribution channels so that the wealth that accrues
to the successful will eventually reach the poorest.
The same applies to the airline industry. The extent to which it is being poorly managed – or
is being managed contrary to the above principles – provides the basis for a Critical Theory
model and then moves on to a consensus based best-practice model.
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PART 7:
7.1
THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
The Literature Review
The Theoretical Framework of this study will be derived from a broad ranging and in-depth
literature review. This will analyse the body of specialist literature and studies developed by
various agencies in the quest to improve the African airline industry.
Key sources of this literature will be:
1) The International Air Transport Association (IATA), a high-profile trade
association representing 265 airlines or 83% of total air traffic. IATA in turn has
commissioned studies by organisations such as:
 The Oxford Economics Group
 WTTC – The World Travel and Tourism Council
2) The Airline Transport Action Group (ATAG), whose mission is to define common
positions on issues and to make expert contributions to the industry and
government consultation process. ATAG (2017) states, inter alia, that it:
 carries out studies to develop consistent data and information,
 proactively communicates aviation's positive role and impact with respect
to economic and social development;
 operates with flexibility and an open-mind, thus creating the conditions for
a transparent dialogue. In so doing, ATAG says it “plays an influential role
in ensuring that aviation can continue to grow according to market
demands and deliver the enormous economic and social benefits it brings
to the world.” (ATAG 2017. p2)
3) Development Banks
4) Airline Annual Reports
5) Recognised airline transport industry text books
6) Published research; notably work on the Air Connectivity Index and Global Value
Chains done for IATA and the World Bank.
7.2
A Broad Theoretical Framework
The broad theoretical framework for this study is the economic paradigm currently prevalent
in many still developing, and most of the developed, countries which can broadly be
described as having a ‘mixed economy’ (Button 2008). This is a mix of free market and state
intervention in industries (such as airlines) either deemed to be strategically too important
to entrust to private ownership or considered to be inherently developmental and thus
fundamentally non-commercial (Karnik 1996).
It is worth noting that in large parts of Africa writers such as (Datta 2006) posit that there has
been a paradigm shift in economic policy over the past 50 or so years. Datta (2006) points
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out that post-independence from their colonial powers, many African states (Tanzania,
Zambia, Libya, Angola and Mozambique, amongst others) adopted broadly socialistic
economic policies. This enabled the state to own and thus control the means of production
and so enforce redistribution. It is readily observable that this resulted in a flight of already
scarce capital and the creation of inherently unproductive state-owned enterprises (Bates,
Coatsworth and Williamson, 2006).
History has shown that these state-owned enterprises are often unsustainable – particularly
after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its support for struggling socialist ‘client’ states
(Bates et al 2006). Eschewing a full swing of the pendulum from socialism to free market
capitalism, the current dominant mode of production in Africa has, almost without exception,
become the ‘mixed economy’ (Jahan, Mahmud, Papageorgiou 2014).
The concept of a ‘mixed economy’ is then a broad theoretical framework for this thesis. As
described by Tawney (1964) a mixed economy framework recognises private ownership
rights and allows market participants (variously termed: businesses, companies, firms,
enterprises) the economic freedom to use capital as efficiently as possible. However, unlike
a hands-off or ‘laisse-faire’ economy, the state maintains an active role – typically through
licensing, legislation or tariffs, to promote the developmental objectives of wealth creation
and redistribution. This is derived from the concept of forced ‘trickle down’ described by
Dabla-Norris, Kochhar, Suphaphiphat, Ricka and Tsounta, (2015) for the World Bank, as noted
in the ontological introduction in this proposal.
In addition, it is noted that this is relevant to this thesis in that the broad acceptance of neoclassical Keynesian Economics for economies in crisis, with its rationale for active state
involvement, (Jahan, Mahmud, Papageorgiou 2014) has further justified the modern African
state’s intervention in the economy and in specific sectors such as infrastructure spending –
and thus airline operations.
As part of transport infrastructure, Karnik (1996) suggests that airlines are readily considered
to be one of the state’s tools for fiscal intervention for economic stimulation. Karnik (1996)
argues that a mixed economy justifies state expenditure and thus ownership of transport
such as road and rail – and airline operations, in the same way as the state providing
healthcare, policing and subsidising commuter transport.
As a counter-point, it is worth noting that Leon Louw of the South African Free Market
Foundation (Free Market Foundation 2014) argues that state subsidisation of airlines may,
counter-intuitively, be anti-developmental, as it is the rich who have sufficient disposable
income to fly. He posits that when the state subsidises airlines, it is in effect subsidising
airfares, and so it is the poor who are subsidising rich airline travellers – via the diversion of
state resources that should have been used for social upliftment (Free Market Foundation
2014).
The neoclassical economic rationale for state intervention (Sarwat, Mahmud, and
Papageorgiou 2014) is that; although free markets are generally accepted as more efficient;
unmoderated free enterprise leaves the poor behind as they have less access to opportunity
and the means of production. They thus find themselves trapped in poverty, with no means
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to escape, except through state intervention. Karnik (1996, p7) describes Adam Smith’s
proposed three duties for the State, of which the third is: “Erecting and maintaining certain
public works and public institutions, which will not be erected and maintained by
individuals.”
Karnik (1996) points out that neoclassical theory for Smith's third duty of the State, identifies
public and quasi-public good as an important cause of the free market’s inability to deliver
such services. He noted that public goods have ‘nonrivalness’ (in consumption) and usually a
sole state funded supplier, all of which makes private provision impossible.
The parallel existence of Low Cost Carrier (LCC) airlines alongside state-owned airlines in
South Africa, Kenya, Morocco, and Tanzania, amongst others, are however interesting
exceptions as they fly in the face of the concept of airline transport as a public service. Instead
LCCs commoditise air travel by making it as cost effective as they can.
Extending this theoretical framework of a mixed economy with active state intervention into
Marxism, Marx has been broadly paraphrased as saying that capitalism has within it the seeds
of its own destruction due to the unsustainable nature of the rich getting richer on the backs
of the poor. (He actually said, “... the rule of the bourgeois democrats, from the very first,
will carry within it the seeds of its own destruction and its subsequent displacement by the
proletariat will be made considerably easier (Marx 1850).)
This reinforces the ontological basis of this thesis; that the notion a fully free market (laissezfaire) economy is unsustainable as the poor (the proletariat) will revolt. Sarwat, Mahmud
and Papageorgiou (2014) note that even amongst those developmental states that have
embraced neo-classical Keynesian economics and mixed economies, this problem, as
manifested by high Gini coefficients, persists.
This thesis will also recognise that the airline industry is considered to be strategically
important from the point of view of national prestige in that it is a ‘flag carrier’ (Schlumberger
2010). Further, it is an inherently developmental industry in that, if left purely to the private
sector, then the transport linkages essential for a small region or town’s development may
be dropped as being uneconomic, (African Development Bank Group 2012). (This is Adam
Smith’s non-rivalness). Arguably, private businesses with owners or shareholders looking for
a return on investment are considered to be more focused on short term profits than on long
term regional socio-economic development (Karnik 1996).
As can be seen then, the theoretical framework applied to airline transport is multi-nuanced
and will be more fully explored in the thesis’s literature review.
7.3
Application to the African Airline Industry
It has been demonstrated by the African Development Bank Group (2012), and studies such
as ATAG (2016) and Considine (2013), that Africa’s economic growth is hindered by its poor
transport connectivity.
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Of particular importance to Africa is the role of air transport. This is because road and rail
transport has been historically underdeveloped, largely as a consequence of colonial
transport patterns and the post-colonial infrastructure development shortcomings (Tambi
2011).
Tambi (2011) and Negota (2011) therefore argue that the airline industry has become the
most important component of African transport connectivity.
Airline industry proponents such as IATA, (in Intervistas 2013), argue that the geopolitical,
legal and economic constraints on aviation need to be relaxed to enable African airlines to
grow to commercially viable sizes and to enable alliances to be formed.
Key concepts are the implementation of liberalised ‘Open Skies’ in accordance with the
Yamoussoukro Decision and Declaration and ‘Fifth (and higher) Freedom Rights’ which, it is
argued by IATA and Intervistas, (IATA 2016b) will open markets to the more efficient airlines,
and thus make air transport far more cost effective and safe.
The African Development Bank (African Development Bank Group 2012) propose that the
reasons for the lack of capacity in African aviation include:
A)
B)
C)
D)
Economic,
Political,
Legal
Management constraints.
Notably for Africa’s attraction as an investment destination, the continent was expected to
produce over 6 percent economic growth, ahead of the world average of 5.8 percent and not
far behind Asia and the Middle East.
However, the hoped for growth of African airlines to support the broad economic growth
failed to materialise (IATA 2017). Thus, IATA (IATA 2015) predicted that in 2015, African air
traffic should be growing at 6.1 percent per annum, making it the third fastest air traffic
growth region (measured in Revenue Passenger Kilometres (RPKs) - a measure of sales of
passenger traffic, excluding freight), (IATA 2015).
Fig 4: Growth in Demand for Air Travel in 2015 (IATA 2015)
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Due to the growing demand for the transportation of goods and services, one of the major
beneficiaries of the African renaissance was expected to be the airlines. As will be indicated
in this thesis, the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) has demonstrated that air connectivity
is essential to move people, goods and services as the key components of trade (ATAG 2016).
Internal tourism, particularly visiting friends and relatives (VFR) by air, is yet to capture the
African public’s imagination at a meaningful scale. IATA (2017) reports that just 10 percent
of Africans use air travel. However, with the hoped-for economic growth and the creation of
more discretionary income, the airlines should be poised for growth.
Due to the need for capital and better access to markets, African airlines have tended to join
airline alliances such as Star Alliance (SAA, Ethiopian and Egypt Air) and Sky Team (Kenya
Airways) and enter into partnerships with airlines such as Qatar (Air Seychelles, Royal Air
Maroc). These partnerships provide essential feeder connections to support long haul routes.
Thus, with the on the ground demand and investment in Africa, plus many other reasons
which will be elucidated in the literature review, the African airline industry should be set to
boom. However, as will be shown, the three Gulf Carriers, Europe-based carriers and Turkish
Airlines are out-smarting and out-manoeuvring African airlines, (Stalnaker, Usman, Taylor,
2016).
The ability of African airlines to seize these opportunities and grow is hampered by many
factors. Smith (2016) reports that lack of skills, poor safety and security, lack of infrastructure,
poor regulatory oversight and government interference, are the key challenges. Lack of
investment in ground based infrastructure is a further key limiting factor to airline growth.
Tambi (2011) points out that inadequate, obsolete and unreliable navigation aids and airport
infrastructure, lack of physical and human resources and lack of connectivity are the key
challenges.
A key further challenge that has been in many instances half-heartedly adopted by the
continent, is the liberalisation or deregulation of the African airline industry (Schlumberger
2010), (IATA 2016). In practice, it is argued by industry observers such as Schlumberger
(2010) and The African Development Bank Group (2012) that mostly lip-service is paid to the
Yamoussoukro Declaration of 1988 and the subsequent Yamoussoukro Decision of 1999 and
in 2016, a ‘solemn declaration’ by 21 African states for increased liberalisation (IATA 2016).
It is argued by Schlumberger (2010) and others, (eg Button 2008) that the majority of airlineowning African states fear that the larger and better capitalised and managed airlines will
threaten their own airlines, forcing them into even more crippling financial losses.
An IATA News Brief, (IATA 2016) and the researcher’s own research (as part of this thesis),
shows that Africa has some of the most expensive airfares on earth. The IATA News Brief
argues that African governments just don’t see aviation as a strategic or high-priority
industry, perceiving it instead as a luxury. So air transport then becomes an opportunity ‘to
milk the rich’.
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The News Brief (IATA 2016) points out that African airfares are subject to excessive levies in
the form of airport charges, fuel taxes, excise duties and more. The Brief further points out
that fuel prices at many airports in Africa are over twice the world average. And then there
are exorbitant passenger taxes: Thus, at Djibouti, there is US$85 in extra fees and in Accra,
US$75. Yet in Singapore, they amount to about US$11 and Mumbai charges less than US$6.
In contrast, numerous studies as reported by the Ujuh news platform (Ujuh 2013) have
shown that the evident success of airline transport in South Africa and in particular the Low
Cost Carriers (LCCs) has demonstrated how air transport linkages and passengers carried
benefit enormously from ‘Open Skies’, despite the privately owned airlines’ oft claimed
complaint of an uneven playing field in having to compete against subsidised state airlines.
(Free Market Foundation 2012) (Smith 2016) and (IATA 2016b). We are seeing promising
signs of successful LCCs emerging in east and even central Africa (Chingosho 2016).
Safety is always a key issue, especially for those new to airline flying. IATA (2017b) reports
that Africa’s safety record has been nine times worse than the world average. However, there
is progress in the form of the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) standard. Notably, of the
25 sub-Saharan IOSA certified airlines, none experienced a Western-built jet hull loss in 2014
or 2016 and safety standards on par with First World airlines have been achieved (Aviation
Week 2016).
The literature review of this thesis will explore some of the other consequences of these
postulated weaknesses and constraints. Thus, the African Development Bank Group (2012)
notes the following weaknesses and constraints:



Intra-African transport linkages frequently require a flight to a distant hub, often out
of the continent, and then an onward flight to the destination.
Ticket prices are far more expensive compared to the fares charged by the fullservice carriers of Europe.
Yet, almost all the airlines are not economically viable and are therefore subsidised
(and as a result, interfered with) by their home state.
A further factor is the aggressive entry into the African market by the three Gulf carriers and
Turkish Airlines, which are forcing reluctant transformation upon the African airline industry
(Bofinger 2016).
7.5
Phenomenological aspects
Phenomenologically, this study will draw on the theoretical framework provided by the
experience of airline business practitioners.
It is however readily acknowledged that there is a danger of facileness in that the phenomena
studied, and in particular the quantitative consequences, may not be deemed relevant by a
reader from an opposing epistemological paradigm. Thus, for example, a reader who holds
that airlines are primarily there to fulfil a development role, may argue that profitability or
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indeed, even a solvent balance sheet, are not relevant in the light of the broader
development role they must serve.
Airline owners and management who hold to this over-riding development view of airlines
as tools of social upliftment (or as basic infrastructure, such as roads and rail), argue that
investment in transport infrastructure has a growth multiplier in the broader economy
(Oxford Economics 2011). Assuming for the sake of this proposal, an arbitrary multiplier of
10, then those who would justify a loss-making enterprise might argue that a state airline can
legitimately operate at a loss of say one million dollars as it could be shown to produce 10
million dollars of benefits.
This argument has been proposed at various times in support of state supported airlines and
it will be examined in detail in the literature review of this thesis, albeit through a quantitative
methodology that assesses the benefits of airline derived connectivity on economic growth
(which as stated – is deemed to be desirable).
7.6
Ethnology Aspects
Ethnologically it may be noted that there is the possibility that some authority figures may
be effectively anarchistic in the sense that they would exploit an industry – or indeed an
entire economy – for personal short-term gain.
At time of writing there are many, possibly apocryphal, stories of abuse, for instance the
commandeering of airline flights to transport the State President’s wife on a shopping trip
(Basildon 2004), or on a larger and more provable scale, the attempt to transfer to a ‘crony’
an intricate purchase contract for the supply of a billion dollars’ worth of airliners (Sole 2015).
The causes and effect of the phenomenon of apparently normative corruption amongst
politicians will therefore also have to be considered.
7.7
Literature review as a proxy for theory
As can be seen from the context, described in Section 1 of this proposal, the true nature of
the African airline industry is multi-faceted, in that it is rooted in first world industry and
technology, and yet is subject to the political pressures of the third world.
Consequently, there are few if any useful theories to support or guide the research. It is
therefore proposed that an extensive literature review and analysis will act as a proxy for
theory. Thus, da Vinci (Research Guide n.d. p.26) states that “The literature may act as a
proxy for theory. In many instances theory is latent or implicit in the literature.”
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7.7.1
Inductive theory
From the literature review, general theoretical principles will be induced and these will form
the basis for the best practice answers which are raised by the research question. Given the
mode 2 nature of the study, it is proposed that the induced general theoretical principles will
become a best practice guide for African airline management.
7.7.2
Abductive theory
It is acknowledged by the researcher that the nature of the African airline industry is
sufficiently complex to allow for alterative ontological realities. In the interests of
comprehensiveness it is proposed to use abductive theory for some of the aspects of the
industry that may be considered surprising in terms of a first world view. Notable amongst
these is the proposed exploration of the nature of corruption and if it may be considered
endemic.
7.8
Structure of Literature Review
An in-depth literature review is essential to fulfil the aims and objectives of this study. The
research question which arises from the aims and objectives of the study is:
1. The Aim is to determine to what extent the African airline industry effects the
continent’s economic growth.
2. The Primary Objective of the study is to identify and examine the weaknesses of the
African airline industry for the purposes of proposing a best practice solution.
The envisaged broad headings for the literature review, which will form Parts 1 and 2 of the
thesis, are as follows:
PART 1:
AVIATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
1.
Introduction – Overview of the Role of Aviation
2.
Aviation’s contribution to African economic growth
3.
The role of government
4.
The role of the private sector.
5.
Competition and the Free Market
6.
The limitations of African aviation
7.
Lessons from African carriers
8.
Liberalisation – towards Open Skies
9.
Foreign Competition and Alliances
PART 2:
THE IMPACT OF AVIATION ON ECONOMIC GROWTH
10.
The African Air Market
11.
Global Value Chains and Cargo
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12.
13.
14.
15.
Developing a Gravity Model
Measuring Interconnectivity and Global Value Chains
Measuring aviation’s value-added
Matrix of inhibiting and growth factors
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PART 8
8.1
CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
Overview of Key Concepts
It is a fundamental tenet of this thesis that the African airline industry has to perform an
essential role in transporting goods and services, which are necessary components of
economic activity, and specifically trade, IATA (2016a) Button (2008), OECD (2017).
Trade enables companies to exploit their competitive advantages by transporting goods to
those markets with a higher cost of production, (OECD 2017). Competitive advantage is a
theory described by Porter (1990), whose ‘clusters’, or groups of geographically separate, but
interconnected companies, has become the paradigm for both companies and their
governments to understand, and thus benefit, from their firms’ (or location’s) strengths.
For trade to function efficiently there needs to be effective transportation connectivity
between the origin and destination. This may be in the form of ground based transport such
as road and rail, or airline transportation. The researcher proposes the notion of ‘the friction
of distance’. The weaker the transportation connectivity the greater ‘the friction of distance’
and the more resistance there is to trade between the origin and the destination. This may
result in suppliers of goods and services choosing to trade in a place with less friction of
distance and thus better connectivity.
An empirical measure of this may be derived by combining the concepts of the Air
Connectivity Index, (Arvis and Shepherd 2011) with the Gravity Theory of Trade, (Salvatici,
2013) and (Chaney 2013). These concepts will be explained below.
Another key conceptual framework is the concept of Global Value Chains (GVCs), as
described by Anderson and van Wincoop, (2003) and Sydor, (2011).
As original theory development for this thesis, it is proposed that the conceptual framework
of friction of distance be fed into the Gravity Model to assess the impact of airline
connectivity in cargo flows and thus trade. It has emerged that some work on this has already
been done by IATA and in early December 2017, the researcher plans to travel to IATA in
Switzerland to interview the Head of IATA research to understand the state of IATA’s current
work on the integration of the Air Connectivity Index with the Gravity Model more fully. This
may lead to a reconsideration of this researcher’s expectation that this proposal’s integration
of these four concepts is not as original as he first hoped.
The concepts of Competitive Advantage, the Air Connectivity Index, the Gravity Model and
Global Value Chains will be more fully explained in the relevant thesis chapters, but for the
purposes of this proposal, brief descriptions are provided:
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8.2
Competitive Advantage:
Porter’s (1990) theory of Competitive Advantage allows countries (or companies) to
participate in global trade by specialising in that section of the global value chain that they
are better at than other countries. This then makes it possible for developing countries not
to have to build an entire supply chain for production, but instead to provide either raw
materials, or perhaps cheap labour, as their contribution to the global value chain.
The OECD report (2017, p19) summarises as follows; “Rather than having to develop and
manage the entire and complex production process in-house, GVCs offer opportunities to
small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and firms in low income and developing countries.
GVCs help overcome barriers to exporting by accommodating specialisation in narrow
business functions and niche activities and they limit dependencies on the degree of
industrial development and broader skills set in the country.”
Applying the theory of competitive advantage theory to aviation, Shepherd, Shingal and Raj
(in IATA 2016) point out that good transport linkages are critical for moving people, goods
and services quickly and efficiently. Speed is increasingly important for the transport of
perishables such as flowers or fish, which countries like Kenya and South Africa have built
significant industries in, to markets in Europe. These countries have a competitive advantage
in terms of the inputs for flower production, and being able to airfreight flowers has enabled
producers to link into the GVCs. This is true too for imported high tech equipment where
GVCs allow companies, such as retail outlets, to operate more efficiently by holding less
stock.
8.3
Gravity Model of Trade
As an innovation that, as far as the researcher is aware, is original for the analysis of African
transport linkages, it is proposed that a weighting be derived for the key facilitating and
inhibiting factors identified in the review of the literature of African airline industry, and that
these will used to derive an African Air Connectivity Index (see below) measure which will be
fed into a Gravity Trade Model as used by economic theorists to describe and predict trade
between nations.
Thus, in terms of modelling trade between nations, Salvatici (2013), in his analysis for the
African Growth and Development Policy Modelling Consortium, applies Anderson and van
Wincoop’s (2003) use of the Gravity model. This model proposes that for economic
modelling, the physical force of gravity is useful as a descriptor of economic interaction
between countries, and may be termed the ‘Gravity Trade Model’ after Wilson (1970), and
as refined by Roy (2004).
The distinguishing feature of the Gravity Trade Model is that the distribution of goods, or
indeed even less tangible services, across space, is determined by forces that mimic the
attenuation of gravitational force over distance. The size of the countries’ (or less-specifically,
places’) economies are then the equivalent of planets with gravitational fields.
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The ‘gravitational attraction’ is then the opposite of the researcher’s concept of the ‘friction
of distance’ which will be discussed in the interpretive component of the literature review.
This thesis proposes that for each location (in this case; airport or whole country) gravityforces can be a useful proxy for transport connectivity. The variables and the formula
required for this analysis are in outline as follows, and will be more fully described in the
literature review. It is noted that while this may be a stochastic model, it is deemed
sufficiently accurate (Salvatici 2013) to form the basis for a new model of assessing the
effectiveness of African air transport.
According to Anderson and van Wincoop (2003), the model was originally developed by
Tinbergen in 1962 and is calculated as follows;
Where F = trade flow G = constant, M = economic mass of each state and D = distance.
The model has already proven itself versatile, having been used to predict the benefits of
trade agreements and dyadic data such as investor confidence and communication
effectiveness.
8.4
Air Connectivity Index
The Air Connectivity Index is a measure of connectivity derived by Arvis and Shepherd (2011)
for the World Bank. The ACI is a specific measure of air transport connectivity, and thus
excludes the other common modes such as road, rail and sea.
Arvis and Shepherd (2011) conceptualise connectivity as the ‘mass’ of a place within the
global air transport system. A place may be either a country, or a single town or airport. A
place is considered to be better connected the stronger is the overall ‘gravitational’ force it
exerts on other points or nodes of the transport network.
A place’s connectivity index rating is high if the cost and difficulty of transporting goods and
services to other nodes in the network is relatively low.
Arvis and Shepherd’s model for measuring air connectivity is a development of the Gravity
Model of Trade derived by Wilson (1970) and refined by Roy (2004).
Arvis and Shepherd (2011) show that a simple gravity regression analysis can be rescaled to
produce a measure of connectivity that corresponds to the total pull exercised by each
country on the rest of the network. This measure of connectivity captures not only the
quantum of costs between places, but also a metric for the dispersion of costs around the
places. It therefore considers all possible air transport connections, including even those that
are not currently served by flights.
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Arvis and Shepherd (2011 p6) state that their Air Connectivity Index, “provides a highly
tractable yet informative indicator of air transport connectivity. It ……. makes it possible to
link such measures to the deep structure of networks with bilateral flows, such as air
transport or trade.”
8.5
Global Value Chains (GVCs)
The theory of GVCs is useful to explain how trade adds value to companies and economies,
(OECD 2017). This OECD report points out that, “GVCs provide opportunities to empower
the local economy with sophisticated imported technology, know-how, and a richer skill-set”
(OECD 2017 p7).
Although the theory of GVCs was designed for cargo valuation modelling, as part of the
original research of this thesis, it is proposed to broaden GVC theory, and amend it as
necessary, to enable it to become a tool also applicable to passenger connectivity metrics.
Figure 5 Integration of Key Conceptual Frameworks to derive a measure of airline
effectiveness.
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PART 9:
9.1
Research Design
Addressing the Research Questions
The research will be designed to address the Primary and Secondary Research Questions restated here for ease of reference:
The primary research question:
What measures will make the African airline industry more effective?
The secondary research questions:
1. What are the weaknesses of the African airline industry?
2. What is the economic impact of the African airline industry?
3. What conceptual framework best describes the effectiveness of the African airline
industry?
4. What will be the effect of foreign competition on African airlines?
5. What will be the effect of ‘open skies’ liberalisation?
6. What best-practice strategies could be devised to strengthen the African airline
industry?
Further possible questions:
1. If the airlines respond positively, to what extent will their growth deliver a multiplier
effect on the broader African economy?
2. Will increased competition further weaken African airlines and thus increasingly
externalise essential transport links?
To address these questions the research will include the following:
1. A comparison and analysis of the various African airlines in order to explain the key
challenges determining their effectiveness as a transportation mode.
2. A review and synthesis and where possible update the various empirical studies on
the role of air transport.
3. The combination four discrete concepts into a synoptic theory that describes the role
of the African airline industry in African trade
4. An assessment of the effects of liberalisation and foreign competition on the African
airline industry.
5. The derivation of a model to describe the extent to which the identified weaknesses
of the African airline industry have inhibited African economic growth.
6. To derivation of a best practice proposal to strengthen the African airline industry.
Further Possible Objectives
1. Using the data derived to calculate a possible economic growth multiplier from
airline growth
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Guy Leitch: Student Number 9992
2 Secondary Objectives:
To identify and examine the weaknesses of the African airline industry in order to
answer the Primary Research Question.
1 Primary Objective:
Research Objectives
PhD Leo 24
2.5.
To derive a model to describe the extent to which the identified weaknesses of the African
airline industry have inhibited African economic growth.
2.4. To assess the effects of liberalisation and foreign competition on the African airline industry.
2.1.
Further possible questions:
1 Using the data derived in 2.2 (above) calculate a possible economic growth multiplier from
airline growth
Using the model derived in 2.5 (above) and CEO inteviews, determine if African airlines will be
2
able to compete with large external airlines.
Further Possible Objectives
What best-practice strategies could be devised to strengthen the
2.6. To devise a best practice proposal to strengthen the African airline industry.
African airline industry?
1 If the airlines respond positively, to what extent will their growth
deliver a multiplier effect on the broader African economy?
2 Will increased competition further weaken African airlines and thus
increasingly externalise essential transport links?
2.6.
2.5. What will be the effect of ‘open skies’ liberalisation?
2.4. What will be the effect of foreign competition on African airlines?
2.1. What are the weaknesses of the African airline industry?
To undertake a comparison and analysis of the various African airlines in order to explain the
key challenges determining their effectiveness as an transportation mode.
To review and synthesise, and where possible update, the various empirical studies on the
2.2. What is the economic impact of the African airline industry?
2.2.
role of air transport.
What conceptual framework best describes the effectiveness of the
To combine four discrete concepts into a synoptic theory that describes the role of the African
2.3.
2.3.
African airline industry?
airline industry in African trade
2 The secondary research questions:
What measures will make the African airline industry more effective?
1 The Primary Research Question:
Research Questions
The apparent failure of the African airline industry to provide the necessary connectivity to support African economic growth.
The problem that this study aims to address is:
2. Using the model derived and CEO interviews, determine if African airlines will be able
to compete with large external airlines.
The relationship between the aim, Research Question and Research Objectives is tabulated
in the following table – which is repeated from page 11 for ease of reference:
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9.2
Review of the Literature
A comprehensive review of the literature will cover two parts, namely –
Part 1: Aviation and Economic Growth
Part 2: Perceived weaknesses of African Aviation
The existing body of literature is extensive and will be précised into the above-mentioned
parts and constituent chapters. This will comprise both qualitative and quantitative
secondary data.
The quantitative aspects arising from the explication of the African airline industry derived
from the literature review, will be;


The study of the airline performance metrics obtained from financial reports.
The analysis of the various commissioned research projects to quantify the African
airline industry’s impact and benefits
This body of the secondary quantitative data will then be validated against the secondary
qualitative knowledge derived from the analysis of the literature and then be validated by
triangulation with the knowledge derived from the interviews with airline CEOs.
9.3
The Structure of the Research
The structure of the research design for this thesis will follow the seven steps described by
Zikmund, Babin, and Ying (2010).
The steps will be as follows:
1. A detailed review of the literature relevant to the African airline industry. The
literature review will not only be conducted to describe the background and context
of the industry, but will be used to derive:
a. The key factors affecting the success and effectiveness of the industry.
b. The key metrics required for input into the gravity model.
2. The formulation of the key concepts and the research proposition. It is expected that
covering the key issues derived from the literature review will take a number of
chapters and form the bulk of the final thesis report. Due to the length of the
literature review it will cover as many as ten chapters instead of the more usual one
or two.
3. The assumption was described in section 3 of this proposal and is repeated here for
convenience: “The African aviation industry is fundamentally unhealthy and
therefore unsustainable, despite the inherent demand for a healthy airline industry
to meet the economic growth potential of Africa,” (Bofinger, 2016) and (IATA 2016a).
4. The assumption will be tested by sequentially utilising the following types of
research:
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i.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.4
Explanatory research: To identify and where necessary quantify the
weaknesses of the African airline industry. It will also derive the key data
needed for the ‘air connectivity index’ which was described in the conceptual
framework.
ii.
Causal research: The information derived from the exploratory research will
then be used in the calculation of the ‘air connectivity index’ to provide the
necessary metrics for the adaptation of the gravity model of international
trade to Africa’s participation in global value chains. The gravity model should
provide a basis for an appreciation and quantification of a possible causal
relationship between economic growth and air transport connectivity.
Data Acquisition will be from:
a. Firstly: a review of the literature, in particular, research on the role of
transport in economic growth and the financial reports of airlines.
b. Secondly: Semi-structured one-on-one interviews with airline senior
management and from their pronouncements in public such as conferences.
Data Analysis: The data derived from the interviews is expected to be discrete and
self-explanatory and as such should not need significant processing or statistical
analysis. The data will however be analysed by using it as a key input into the
proposed airline senior management interviews and by triangulating it with the
output from these interviews.
The product of the research will then be:
a. A synoptic review of the weaknesses of the African airline industry.
b. The derivation of a model to explain the effect of the African airline industry
on the continent’s economic growth.
c. A ‘best-practice’ strategy document for the guidance of African airline
owners and senior management
Result Testing and a Pilot study:
a. Due to the large scale of the industry and the inertia of current airline
management strategies, it is not proposed to do a pilot study to test the
derived best practise framework.
b. This will be left to individual airline management to adopt and is hoped to
provide a basis for follow-up research.
Sampling
A purposive sampling strategy will be adopted whereby only Chief Executives or failing that,
other appropriate C-suite executives with specific knowledge and experience, will be
interviewed. It is acknowledged that this is a stratified sampling strategy, which may fall into
the trap epitomised by the apocryphal sign above a secretary’s desk:
“If you want to speak to the boss, make an appointment. If you want
to know what’s going on, then speak to me.”
But identifying the right secretary with useful institutional information may be difficult.
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The universe of African airline industry C-suite executives is already limited. Further, a
number will not be accessible, either due to unavailability from time constraints or a simple
reluctance to talk to a researcher. Note too, that as this researcher has a significant public
profile as an ‘analyst’ for general media and as the editor of an aviation publication, some of
the CEOs might not want to be exposed to the researcher.
It is therefore expected that a likely sample size will be between five and ten interviews. The
interviews will be conducted from a list of pre-prepared prompts, but the discussion will be
allowed to move in whatever directions it takes. By so doing it is hoped that the discussion
will then uncover additional problems/issues/concerns/challenges and so on, that will add to
the body of knowledge and expand the validity of this study.
Due to the difficulty of travelling to the offices of airline CEOs, interviews will be conducted
as and when the CEOs are encountered. Often these may be in meeting rooms at conferences
or hotels where public relations firms have set up the interview. It is also noted that the
interviewees will in many instances want an aide or personal assistant to be in attendance.
From the researcher’s past experience with such interviews, it is however not expected that
this presence will have a significant inhibiting effect on the response to the questions posed
and the general discussion.
It is noted that where necessary, confidentiality will be assured, but the more likely practice
will be to allow the CEO to review the transcription or distillation of the interview. This is
considered useful as it enables the CEO to articulate precisely what s/he wants to say, rather
than have it reduced or distilled by the interviewer in his own words.
These interviews will then form the basis for Part 4 of the thesis and will be more qualitative
than the previous section’s quantitative perspective:
Thus the thesis parts relevant to the Research Design will be as follows:
Part 4: Qualitative aspects
16.
17.
18.
19.
20.
Senior management perspectives
Triangulation of findings
Application: Gravity model synthesis:
Prioritisation
Assessment - Towards best practice
Part 5 of the thesis will then be The Conclusion.
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PART 10:
10.1
Research Method Considerations
Multi-methods research considerations
As a mode 2 institution study, as outlined in the Epistemology discussion, this thesis
considered using a multi-methods methodology that draws on the best aspects of qualitative,
quantitative and applied research. This is in accordance with Stark and Roberts (2012) who
propose that pure research is intended to increase knowledge without regard to the practical
applications, whereas, in contrast, applied research is primarily intended to meet practical
objectives.
Since the ultimate aim of this thesis is to build a better understanding of the African airline
industry with the intention of creating a best practice model – or at the least, a road map for
African airline owners and managers, it is proposed that the research methodology employed
should be appropriate to applied research.
However, the quantitative data is secondary data as it is sourced from the Literature review.
As such it is not congruent with the qualitative data and does not lend itself to multi or mixed
methods approach.
10.2
Data integrity - Triangulation and replicability
Bazley (2002. p 151) argues that “triangulation was initially conceived as the conduct of
parallel (or otherwise duplicated) studies using different methods to achieve the same
purpose, with a view to providing corroborating evidence for the conclusions drawn.” This
would suggest that triangulation is best used as a validation technique for multi-methods
without regard to either of the conditions inherent in the original concept.
This has consequences for the replicability of this research. It was therefore postulated by
Fielding & Fielding (1986) and Flick (1992) that triangulation has lost the power of its original
meaning derived from the refining of accuracy through multiple bearings – as used by the
surveying profession in geometry. Thus Bazeley (2002) argues that triangulation does not
assist validation as each source must be understood on its own terms.
The essence of Bazeley’s problem is that the original concept of triangulation ‘assumes a
single reality and ignores the symbolic interactionist foundation of much qualitative work
which proposes that different methods (or researchers or participants) will necessarily view
or construe the object of the research in different ways’. Bazeley (2002. p 153).
The problems of replicability are pertinent to the proposed thesis as it will be evident from
the review of the literature that the African airline industry is multi-faceted, with many
concurrent paradigms. This partly arises from its position as a first world industry in a third
world environment. It will be observed that there have been many additional expectations
placed on the industry beyond just that of providing transport connectivity, and doing so
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sustainably – if not openly profitably. Thus, there are policy makers in African government
who believe that an airline should fulfil an essentially development role (Gigaba 2017).
For the purposes of brevity in this discussion on research methodology it is summarised that
this development role is threefold:
1. Credible studies have been produced to show that the airline provides essential
connectivity for trade, and that this enables far more value creation than it costs.
2. Airlines in Africa are considered to be important for skills development in that as a stateowned corporation it can enforce racial quotas far more vigorously than truculent
private enterprise.
3. Airlines are claimed to be good for national prestige as ‘flag carriers’.
These and other developmental objectives will be more fully explored in the review of the
literature.
It is postulated then that these differing paradigms have the potential to create a sense of
‘cognitive dissonance’ if the research methodology is forced to fit into too narrow a
predefined research methodology.
Of particular note will be the role of the author in the interviews. For the purposes of the
research interviews the author will have to make it known that he is ‘wearing a different hat’
to that of a journalist, and that the protocols associated with academic research will be
strictly applied – not the protocols of journalism.
10.3.
Transferability of the Study
The problems of replicability are pertinent to the proposed thesis as it will be evident from
the review of the literature that the African airline industry is multi-faceted, with many
concurrent paradigms.
This partly arises from its position as a first world industry in a third world environment. It
will be observed that there have been many additional expectations placed on the industry
beyond just that of providing transport connectivity, and doing so sustainably – if not openly
profitably. Thus, there are policy makers in African government who believe that an airline
should fulfil an essentially development role (Gigaba 2017).
For the purposes of brevity in this discussion on research methodology it is summarised that
this development role is threefold:
4. Credible studies have been produced to show that the airline provides essential
connectivity for trade, and that this enables far more value creation than it costs.
5. Airlines in Africa are considered to be important for skills development in that as a stateowned corporation it can enforce racial quotas far more vigorously than truculent
private enterprise.
6. Airlines are claimed to be good for national prestige as ‘flag carriers’.
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These and other developmental objectives will be more fully explored in the review of the
literature.
It is postulated then that these differing paradigms have the potential to create a sense of
‘cognitive dissonance’ if the research methodology is forced to fit into too narrow a
predefined research methodology.
Of particular note will be the role of the researcher in the interviews. For the purposes of the
research interviews the researcher will have to make it known that he is ‘wearing a different
hat’ to that of a journalist, and that the protocols associated with academic research will be
strictly applied – not the protocols of journalism.
10.4.
Academic peer review
The integrity of hard (empirical) data used in this thesis is not considered an issue as it is
essentially non-contested and generally non-controversial.
Where data is derived from a review of the literature, the usual academic disciplines and
standards in terms of peer review will be applied. However, by its nature, the industry has a
high profile and is thus subject to much media reporting in non-peer reviewed journals.
Where necessary these will be used with due regard to any competing data or views. Thus,
for example; a trade industry magazine editor published a review of the various airlines’
employee counts relative to the number of aircraft, supposedly as an indicator of efficiency.
Not only was the methodology flawed, as it did not separate employees from the primary
airline business from those in subsidiary companies, but the number of employees at South
African Airways (SAA) was grossly exaggerated, (from 10,500 to 55,000). This mis-information
was however seized upon by the many critics of SAA and it became widely quoted and largely
accepted by many, particularly those critical of SAA, (Foster 2012).
It is further noted that the possible shortage of peer reviewed academic literature may
compromise the authenticity of obtained data, but it is hoped that using other corroborating
sources will reduce this risk. And then finally, the CEO interviews will further weed out weak
or dubious information.
Much data will of necessity be derived from secondary sources such as airline annual reports.
Where such data is used, it is not expected to be contentious, as it is from formal results
produced by the airlines themselves, usually for statutory reporting purposes.
There is however a proviso in that a number of airlines have taken to restating their financial
results in later years. This may be occasioned by the appointment of a new Chief Executive
who, if given the opportunity by his or her board of directors and the shareholder, may
choose to load expenses into the period their predecessor was employed and defer income
to their own period of employment, thus enhancing results – which may lead to the payment
of performance bonuses.
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10.5.
Autoethnography Validity
Due to the researcher’s role in the industry, and his experience, it will at times be necessary
to utilise auto-ethnographic insights, (Mendez 2013). This will however be resorted to as little
as possible, if at all. Wherever possible, auto-ethnographic comments will be substantiated
by corroboration with other sources.
Auto-ethnography may be disparaged for its lack of objectivity, but it is proposed that it
nonetheless has a key role in this research. Mendez (2013; p. 16) writes, “the most recurrent
criticism of auto-ethnography is of its strong emphasis on self, which is at the core of the
resistance to accepting auto-ethnography as a valuable research method. Thus, autoethnographies have been criticised for being ‘self-indulgent, narcissistic, introspective and
individualised’.
Auto-ethnography has nonetheless established itself as a credible research tool. In the 1980s,
auto-ethnography developed as a response to calls “to place greater emphasis on the ways
in which the ethnographer interacts with the culture being researched" (Holt, 2003, p. 18).
This is essential to this thesis, as it allows the researcher to draw on his own experience to
understand the African airline industry.
Mendez (2013) quotes Deborah Reed-Danahay who raises three key questions to validate
the auto-ethnographic process:
1.
2.
3.
The role of the auto-ethnographer in the narrative: is the auto-ethnographer
an insider or an outsider of the phenomenon being described?
Whose voice is being heard: who is speaking, the people under investigation
or the researcher?
Cultural displacement: some realities are being described by people who have
been displaced from their natural environment due to political or social issues.
Mendez (2013) points out that her articulation of auto-ethnographic concerns aligns with
Ellis (2007. p. 14), who writes, “Doing auto-ethnography involves a back-and-forth movement
between experiencing and examining a vulnerable self and observing and revealing the
broader context of that experience.”
It is therefore noted that when an auto-ethnographic process is utilised in this thesis, the
researcher will give continual explicit conscious consideration of these three issues.
10.6.
Data Analysis
10.6.1 Extent of data and number of variables
Due to the preponderance of qualitative data arising from the review of the literature, a
complex quantitative data analysis is not a key component of this thesis.
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It is proposed that the quantitative aspects derived from the secondary data are amenable
to simple analysis and summary. Thus, it is postulated by the researcher that the nature of
the African airline industry can be summarised within a few key metrics, typically, but for the
purposes of this proposal, not exhaustively:





The number of profitable airlines
A measure of interconnectivity to be derived
The number of revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs)
Key ratios such as the number of employees per RPK or per aircraft
Load factors
10.7
Ethical considerations
10.7.1 Interviews
The key ethical vulnerability of this thesis is the CEO interviews. They are proposed to be
loosely based on an interview schedule, and as such, due consideration must be given to the
ethical standards and requirements of testing (Trochim 2006, quoted by Cooke 2012).
The following criteria will be adhered to during the interviewing of airline senior
management:
•
•
•
•
•
All participation in interviews will be voluntary.
All participants will be provided with an explanation of the interview process.
No results will be used against the individual or given to a Civil Aviation Authority
or any other regulator.
If required by the interviewee, the interviewees privacy will be respected and
specific quotes simply attributed to ‘an airline senior manager’.
Where a surprising answer of information may be received from an interviewee,
it will be confirmed later that is indeed what the interviewee wished to
communicate.
Again, it is worth pointing out that it is not expected that this thesis will encounter any major
ethical challenges and the Hippocratic precept to ‘do no harm’ should be easily applicable.
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PART 11
CONCLUSION TO THE PROPOSAL
In overview, this thesis proposes to address the problem (‘the burning issue’) of the
capacity of the African airline industry to meet the economic growth requirements of
the continent.
It will do so by:
1
Conducting a broad and in-depth literature review. This literature review will:
a. Aim to identify and ‘unpack’ the key issues and challenges facing the African
airline industry.
b. Re-synthesise the existing quantitative research methodology and findings
and where applicable update it to determine;
i) The economic contribution of the airline industry to African economic
growth
ii) The opportunity cost in terms of lost growth resulting from the lack of
capacity in the African airline industry.
2
Conducting qualitative phenomenological research by interviewing airline senior
managers. These interviews will:
a. Seek to establish best practice.
b. Provide essential insights for the triangulation of the findings from the
literature review and phenomenological aspects of the study.
3
Using the triangulation results, it is intended to develop a best practise
theoretical framework to optimise the African airline industry.
4
Due to the large scale of the industry and individual airlines, it is not proposed to
pilot study the derived best practise framework. This will be left to individual
airline management to adopt.
5
The product of this thesis will be:
a. Firstly: A detailed explication of the African airline industry.
Secondly: A proposed best practise strategy. This strategy may have the inherent risk of being
facile to experienced industry practitioners. However, it is believed that the rigours of the
process of getting to the strategy will in itself justify or validate the strategy. And, if nothing
else, it will reinforce the need for airline managers and owners to ‘get back to basics’.
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Annexure 1: Overview of Thesis by Chapter
In terms of chapters and sections, the proposed structure is as follows:
Introduction
i.
ii.
iii.
Abstract etc
The research question and context
Research design and methodology
Part 1: Overview – Aviation and Economic Growth
1
2
3
4
5
Aviation’s contribution to World economic growth.
Aviation’s contribution to African economic growth.
The role of government.
The role of the private sector.
Free market effects.
Part 2: Weaknesses of African Aviation
6
7
8
9
10
Limitations on African aviation
Lessons from failed African airlines
Resistance to liberalisation
Effects of foreign competition
African aviation market limitations
Part 3: Quantitative aspects
11
12
13
14
Global value chains and African cargo
The Air Connectivity Index and Global Value Chains
Measuring aviation’s value-added
Matrix of inhibiting and growth factors
Part 4: Qualitative aspects
15 Senior management perspectives
16 Developing a gravity model
17 Triangulation of findings
Part 5: Application:
18 Gravity model synthesis: Prioritisation
19 Assessment - Towards best practice
20 Conclusion
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Annexure 2: Overview of Structure of Thesis
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ANNEXURE 3:
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