African Airlines Association director for safety Elijah Chingosho has been promoted to head the organisation as secretary general, replacing Tewodros Tamrat who had been steering the association as acting chief since June.
After retiring from the air force, he worked for a Harare-based marketing firm, leaving in April 1999 to become Air Zimbabwe general manager for engineering.
The new secretary general has been appointed for a five-year term, which will formally begin in January. In the meantime acting chief Tamrat will continue to lead AFRAA while Chingosho prepares a new strategic plan, including performance indicators.
Speaking after his appointment at the AFRAA general assembly in Addis Ababa, Chingosho said: "The mandate is clear - they want me to start working today. I love African aviation. I think its best days lie ahead and among my tasks is to chart a new direction so we can reach those new days.
"This is going to be hard and difficult work. However, I have the energy and zeal to create a strong organisation that the African aviation industry needs and deserves."
Prior to Chingosho's being named, outgoing AFRAA president Girma Wake said: "You know what we have got wrong in the past. We want you to get it right from the beginning.
"Wearing a swimsuit does not make one a swimmer. Being given the title of secretary general does not make you a secretary general. What makes a secretary general is action, so get in and act."
Wake also called on the secretariat to shift its policy and "run AFRAA as a business", giving the secretary general more power to act as a chief executive. "We have to have unity in AFRAA," says Wake. "We want to see AFRAA move forward with confidence. Whatever problems we have had in the past were to do with unity. We hope to solve the problems within us."
Chingosho says his top priorities are safety, creating greater unity within AFRAA, strengthening supplier partnerships, improving communication between members and helping African airlines get a greater proportion of intercontinental traffic, where foreign carriers have 80% market share.
Royal Air Maroc chief Driss Benhima was named as AFRAA president for 2011, while EgyptAir chairman Hussein Massoud will chair the association for the coming year.