Airlines African Union Commission to launch Single African Sky

  • Kenya Airways

The African Union Commission is set to launch the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 28th January 2018 as a historic event at the African Union Summit.

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The SAATM is one of the flagship projects of the African Union Agenda 2063, an initiative of the African Union to create a single unified air transport market in Africa. Twenty-three countries which have adhered to the Solemn Commitment are Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo and Zimbabwe. This new agreement could allow airlines to operate flights and open bases outside of their home country as it is usual in Europe. As the new agreement could replace bilateral agreements between single countries, new business models could be established. Airline models like Ryanair, which operates several European bases outside of their home country Ireland could become a new possibility to increase traffic in Africa.

As currently, several African countries try to avoid competition and focus on protectionism of their markets the new agreement could change the African aviation industry. According to an official report of PIDA, airlines from the twenty-two participating countries are responsible for more than 70% of intra-African air traffic.

Participating countries in Africa
Participating countries in Africa © PIDA

Speaking ahead of the launch event, Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy at the African Union Commission said “With preparations continuing on schedule, the launch of the Single African Air Transport Market will spur more opportunities to promote trade, cross-border investments in the production and service industries, including tourism resulting in the creation of an additional 300,000 direct and two million indirect jobs contributing immensely to the integration and socio-economic growth of the continent.”

The Declaration on the establishment of SAATM, was adopted by the African Union (AU) Assembly in January 2015. Thereafter, eleven AU Member States declared their Solemn Commitment to establish a Single African Air Transport Market through full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision of 1999 that provides for full liberalization of market access between African States, free exercise of traffic rights, elimination of restrictions on ownership and full liberalization of frequencies, fares and capacities.

Ethiopian Airlines, the flag carrier of the signing ceremonies host country Ethiopia could be an example for a successful airline development in Africa. The carrier is one of the largest airlines and cooperates with several African carriers, as Ethiopia has negotiated liberal agreements with African countries. In addition to its hub in Addis Ababa, the airline operates hubs in Lome, Togo and Lilongwe, Malawian.

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