Managing Director, Ethiopian International Services, Mr. Esayas Haliu, has said the success of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) is the key to reducing the dominance of international mega carriers, which have 80 per cent of the African travel market.
Haliu, who made this known in an interview with journalists in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia recently, said Africa has only three per cent of the global air travel market and 80 per cent of that market is dominated by international carriers, leaving African carriers with only 20 per cent.
He said the full implementation of SAATM would free the market from mega carriers, as the treaty guarantees access to African airlines to all signatory nations.
“When Single African Transport management which is advocated by African Union commission, when that one comes people think that only a few airlines will benefit from that, No! As we are speaking 80 per cent of African traffic is taken by non-Africans, so all of us put together we have only 20 per cent so we need to attack that 80 per cent.
“We need to eclipse, 80 per cent should be African airlines and 20 per cent should be non-African airlines. This is our continent, that is our traffic and so for more African countries to come, the traffic, which is not in the hands of the African airlines is much more.
“So we have a lot more to play with, it’s not as if we have to scramble that same 20 per cent. No! We don’t settle for that and we want to contribute more than three per cent of the global air traffic which we are doing now, it’s only three percent.
He said that it was in the bid to make such major contribution that Ethiopia Airlines was going to every African country and helping to establish regional national carriers.
He argued that if the SAATM was allowed the opportunity one of its benefits would be to redistribute wealth by reducing capital flight from Africa to non-African countries.
“All this effort is for African airlines to grow thrive and dominate the 80 per cent of the market so that employment, taxes, revenue, opportunity the capital sinks in the African continent and does not fly away,” he added.
He, however, frowned at the uncooperative stance of some African countries preferring to sell traffic rights to non-African countries at the detriment of African carriers.
“Right now many of the African nation’s have been given traffic rights to non-African nations more and when fellow Africans ask they deny them services. In some places people go from one part of Africa to another part of Africa via Dubai, Doha why? For what reason?
Even some non-African airlines are given fifth freedom to airlift and disembark passengers in the continent of Africa without having to go through the home base, but when such request incoming from a fellow African such nations hesitate or decide not to.
“So SAATM is a very good solution for Africa to put its hands together, organise itself together and to thrive, so SAATM is the best thing that can happen to Africa because air traffic connectivity is a tool for economy, cultural exchange, tourism, regional tourism as well as people and goods transaction.
“Africa has been transacting with overseas 90 per cent and only 10 per cent local economic transaction, why? Africa needs to buy and sell with each other, we need to do business with each other, so for that instead of building 30,000km rail and road, just 3km if runway can connect people and goods in the continent of Africa, as simple as that to start with.”