Africa could become single air transport market by 2016
29 September 2014
Africa could become a single air transport market that will remove the need for bilateral air services agreements by early 2016, the industry lobby said on Wednesday.
African Airlines Association (AFRAA) Secretary General Elijah Chingosho told Xinhua that the regulatory texts and legal institutional framework are scheduled to be finalized in October.
"Guidelines will soon be formulated that will enable the African Union to carry out negotiations among the various trading blocs with a view to realizing a single African air transport market," Chingosho said.
The Yamoussoukro Decision of 1988 calls for the liberalization of Africa air skies. Some of the reasons for the delay in the full implementation of the decision is the protection of national airlines.
Chingosho said that African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) should be strengthened in order to oversee and enforce the implementation of a single air transport market.
According to AFRAA, the West African region has the most liberal airspace. The reason may be that several states do not have national airlines to protect, while they require moving people and high value goods within the region. And in North Africa, Morocco has largely very liberal regime.
The East African Community (EAC) is partially liberalized while in the Southern Africa Development community region, Zambia and Zimbabwe are becoming more liberal as they wish to promote their excellent tourist facilities.
Chingosho said there is need for adequate aviation infrastructure in order to cope with the growing airline traffic, adding that in order to develop a vibrant aviation sector, safety standards within the continent must be up to global standards.
He urged African airlines to consolidate their operations to enable them to become viable operating entities which can attract financing at competitive rates.
Chingosho also said the issue of visa requirements for Africans traveling to other African states is affecting the growth of the sector, adding that if visa regimes are not relaxed, the AU vision of social, political and economic integration cannot be realized.
"It is often much more difficult for an African to get a visa to travel from one African State to certain African States than it is for a citizen of other regions," he said."It is unfortunate that some African states find it easier to grand favorable traffic rights to non-African airlines that are denied their African counterparts."