Cape Town - The African Union (AU) and International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomes the launch of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) which is set to improve intra-African air connectivity.
The initiative which will open up Africa’s skies by enhancing connectivity between 23 of the continent's countries, will also promote regional tourism and trade, and cement Africa's role in global aviation.
According to IATA, 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," says IATA.
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Rapahel Kuuchi, IATA’s Vice President for Africa, says that the SAATM has the potential for 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 suggest 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,” he says.
Although 44 countries signed the agreement, only 23 out of 55 African countries have subscribed to SAATM, including South Africa. The AU is in the process of wooing the rest of the countries to come on board.
Kuuchi adds that through effective implementation of SAATM, the benefits of a connected continent will also be realised by the "remaining 32 AU member nations still to come on board".
Previous open skies pledges
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, says IATA.
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.
“Governments must act on their commitments and allow their economies to fly high on the wings of aviation,” Kuuchi adds.
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