African Airlines Association (AFRAA) on Friday expressed joy at the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) expected to be launched on Sunday.
Abderahmane Berthe, the Secretary General of AFRAA, said the establishment of the SAATM will tremendously benefit African airlines.
“With the operationalization of the SAATM, intra-African connectivity will develop and in turn, aviation’s role as an economic driver will grow significantly,” he said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
Berthe urged the 23 member countries of the SAATM to go a step further to ensure they create an enabling operating environment for airlines so that they may realize the maximum potential of the SAATM and take advantage of the benefits that aviation brings.
He appealed to the remaining African states to join and help in the realization of the far-sighted vision of a Single African Air Transport Market that will help spur the development of African aviation.
The association said SAATM is a flagship project of the Agenda 2063, an initiative to create a single unified air transport market and the liberalization of civil aviation in Africa, and as an impetus to the continent’s economic integration agenda
According AFRAA, the pursuit of full liberalization of African skies received a major lift in 2015 when 11 African leaders made a solemn commitment to the implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) towards the establishment of a single African air transport market by 2017.
Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) calls for the full liberalization of the African aviation industry by removing all restrictions on access, price, frequency and capacity in intra-African air transport market.
“Significant strides have been achieved thereafter through the advocacy activities of International Air Transport Association (IATA), AFRAA, the African Union Commission through the African Civil Aviation Commissions (AFCAC), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the members of the Ministerial Working Group and other industry stakeholders.
The number of countries that have signed the Solemn Commitment increased from 11 to 23. These include: Benin, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Capo Verde, Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo and Zimbabwe.
“These Member States have been requested to implement a number of key steps towards ensuring the full implementation of the YD, the initial condition for the establishment of the Single Market. A number of the remaining African States are embracing the YD through Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASAs),” AFRAA said.
It said traffic volumes and airport infrastructure and airlines within the twenty-three countries account for more than 80 percent of the intra-African traffic.