IATA Wel­comes Sin­gle African Air Trans­port Mar­ket Ini­tia­tive by African Union


Nomad Africa Magazine - - Inside Issue11 - Words: KRISTIE OMAR

The In­ter­na­tional Air Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion (IATA) has wel­comed the launch of the Sin­gle African Air Trans­port Mar­ket (SAATM) ini­tia­tive by the African Union (AU).

the ini­tia­tive is set to open up Africa’s skies and im­prove in­tra-African air con­nec­tiv­ity, which in turn will stim­u­late de­mand, im­prove African air­line in­dus­try com­pet­i­tive­ness and al­low for an in­crease in air travel ac­ces­si­bil­ity, thereby gen­er­at­ing higher vol­umes of trade, ex­panded tourism and grow­ing com­merce be­tween African na­tions and the rest of the world.

“The SAATM has the po­ten­tial for re­mark­able trans­for­ma­tion that will build pros­per­ity while con­nect­ing the African con­ti­nent. Ev­ery open air ser­vice ar­range­ment has boosted traf­fic, lifted economies and cre­ated jobs, and we ex­pect no less in Africa on the back of the SAATM agree­ment. An IATA sur­vey sug­gested that if just 12 key African coun­tries opened their mar­kets and in­creased con­nec­tiv­ity, an ex­tra 155,000 jobs and $1.3bn in an­nual GDP would be cre­ated in those coun­tries,” said Ra­pa­hel Ku­uchi, IATA’s vice pres­i­dent for Africa.

“We com­mend the 23 states that have signed up to SAATM. It is an im­por­tant step for­ward, but the ben­e­fits of a con­nected con­ti­nent will only be re­alised through ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion of SAATM – firstly by the coun­tries al­ready com­mit­ted and also by the re­main­ing 32 AU mem­ber na­tions still to come on board,” added Ku­uchi.

One of the main ob­sta­cles to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of pre­vi­ous open skies pledges – 1988 Ya­mous­soukro Dec­la­ra­tion and 1999 Ya­mous­soukro De­ci­sion – has been the ab­sence of an un­der­pin­ning reg­u­la­tory text. IATA wel­comes the AU’s adop­tion of the reg­u­la­tory text of the Ya­mous­soukro De­ci­sion (YD) – also the frame­work for SAATM – which cov­ers com­pe­ti­tion and con­sumer pro­tec­tion and dis­pute set­tle­ments, as these safe­guard the ef­fi­cient op­er­a­tion of the mar­ket.

“This de­ci­sion is mo­men­tous. SAATM is a de­ci­sive step to­wards greater in­traAfrican con­nec­tiv­ity and de­liv­ers the frame­work on which to achieve it. Now it’s time to get down to the work of im­ple­men­ta­tion. Greater con­nec­tiv­ity will lead to greater pros­per­ity. Gov­ern­ments must act on their com­mit­ments, and al­low their economies to fly high on the wings of avi­a­tion,” con­cluded Ku­uchi.

An ex­tract from 1999 Ya­mous­soukro De­ci­sion: Avi­a­tion is a vi­tal tool for devel­op­ment glob­ally and has the po­ten­tial to greatly trans­form and im­prove eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fits across Africa. The SAATM is there­fore a clear path for a more pros­per­ous and se­cure African fu­ture. Im­proved in­tra-Africa con­nec­tiv­ity fa­cil­i­tates busi­ness and trade, en­ables tourism, con­nects friends, fam­i­lies and cul­tures, and pro­motes the ex­change of knowl­edge and ideas. Avi­a­tion is the foun­da­tion of many es­tab­lished and emerg­ing economies, e.g. UAE, Sin­ga­pore, Rwanda, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire. The African avi­a­tion mar­ket how­ever re­mains un­der­de­vel­oped, es­pe­cially when it comes to con­nec­tiv­ity within the con­ti­nent, pre­sent­ing in­fi­nite op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Air con­nec­tiv­ity is a mea­sure of eco­nomic po­ten­tial and op­por­tu­nity. The bet­ter con­nected a coun­try is by air, the greater its abil­ity to un­lock the eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fits that air trans­port can de­liver. Cur­rently, air con­nec­tiv­ity in Africa is fo­cused on in­ter­na­tional routes, most espe-

cially from Europe and the Mid­dle East, whilst in­tra-Africa con­nec­tiv­ity is much more lim­ited. Air con­nec­tiv­ity has many di­men­sions; the num­ber of routes, the range of des­ti­na­tions served, the fre­quency of ser­vices and ‘num­ber of seats’ avail­able to and from a coun­try. Pas­sen­ger ben­e­fits of en­hanced con­nec­tiv­ity are air ser­vice lib­er­al­i­sa­tion would re­sult in sub­stan­tial ben­e­fits for pas­sen­gers such as fare sav­ings, more di­rect routes, in­creased route fre­quen­cies re­sult­ing in greater con­ve­nience and time sav­ings. For ex­am­ple, there is cur­rently no di­rect ser­vice be­tween Al­ge­ria and Nige­ria. The most con­ve­nient rout­ing avail­able is via Morocco (Al­giers-Casablanca-La­gos).

The min­i­mum jour­ney time for this rout­ing is 9 hours, but de­pend­ing on con­nect­ing times could be as much as 17 hours. A di­rect ser­vice would re­duce the travel time be­tween Al­giers and La­gos to ap­prox­i­mately 4.5 hours.

The im­pact of en­hanced con­nec­tiv­ity ex­tends be­yond those to pas­sen­gers. The in­creased air ser­vice lev­els will stim­u­late em­ploy­ment in the avi­a­tion in­dus­try to han­dle pas­sen­gers and their bag­gage and to op­er­ate, ser­vice, and main­tain air­craft.

Lib­er­al­i­sa­tion would also be ex­pected to stim­u­late trade and tourism be­tween the coun­tries, gen­er­at­ing an es­ti­mated US$1.3 bil­lion in ad­di­tional spend­ing. And per­haps most sig­nif­i­cantly, the in­creased air ser­vices could fa­cil­i­tate many other sec­tors of the econ­omy by sup­port­ing in­creased trade, at­tract­ing new busi­nesses to the re­gion, en­cour­ag­ing in­vest­ment and en­hanc­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity and com­pet­i­tive­ness. In­dus­tries and ac­tiv­i­ties that would other­wise not ex­ist in a re­gion could be at­tracted by im­proved air trans­port con­nec­tiv­ity. The fu­ture of air trans­port in Africa: The goal of the YD is to strengthen safety and security over­sight on the con­ti­nent and pro­mote a cli­mate of co­op­er­a­tion among African car­ri­ers through part­ner­ships, merg­ers and con­sor­tiums. Im­proved air­line brands will be able to com­pete favourably with stronger states or blocks of states from out­side the con­ti­nent.

The full im­ple­men­ta­tion of YD will guar­an­tee the cre­ation of a larger mar­ket for African car­ri­ers and an im­proved ac­cess to cap­i­tal. In ad­di­tion, air­lines and gov­ern­ments can op­ti­mise ex­ist­ing ca­pac­i­ties. African Open Skies cre­ates much more op­por­tu­ni­ties and economies of scale. When African air­lines are em­pow­ered by this re­al­i­sa­tion, eco­nomic devel­op­ment on the con­ti­nent would be ac­cel­er­ated, thou­sands more jobs would be cre­ated and the move. Travel and tourism is vi­tal to the glob­alised econ­omy.

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