IATA welcomes Single African Air Transport Market but says effective implementation is key
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomes the launch of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) initiative by the African Union (AU) to open up Africa’s skies and improve intra-African air connectivity.
Enhanced connectivity will stimulate demand, improve the competitiveness of the African airline industry, and make air travel more accessible. In turn, this will enable higher volumes of trade, expanded tourism and growing commerce between African nations and with 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 suggests that if just 12 key African countries opened their markets and increased connectivity an extra 155,000 jobs and US$1.3 billion in annual GDP would be created in those countries,” said Rapahel Kuuchi, IATA’s Vice President for Africa.
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 settlement as these safeguard the efficient operation of the market.
“Today’s decision is momentous. SAATM is a decisive step towards greater intra-African 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,” Kuuchi concluded.
The Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) is a flagship project of the African Union Agenda 2063, an initiative of the African Union to create a single unified air transport market in Africa, the liberalization of civil aviation in Africa and as an impetus to the Continent’s economic integration agenda.
The Declaration on the establishment of a Single Africa Air Transport Market, as a flagship project of the AU Agenda 2063 was adopted by the African Union (AU) Assembly in 2015. Eleven AU Member States have made a commitment to implement the Yamoussoukro Decision of 1999 that provides for full liberalization in terms of market access between African States, the free exercise of traffic rights, the elimination of restrictions on ownership and the full liberalization of frequencies, fares and capacities.
The third meeting of the Ministerial Working Group on establishment of the SAATM took place from 5 to 8 December 2017 and a number of activities were agreed to mark the launch of the Single African Air Transport Market. It is envisaged that airlines from the 23 SAATM countries would each be able to put up an exhibition during the launch. The theme of the fair is: “Flying the AU Agenda 2063: for an integrated, peaceful and prosperous Africa”.
To date, the number of Member States that have adhered to the Solemn Commitment has reached twenty-three (23), namely: 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.