Sky's the limit as Africa makes major move towards aviation single market

9 February 2018

Back in 1999, under what is known as the Yamoussoukro Decision, African countries planned to free their skies for air travel.

The African Union (AU) took its first big step towards this goal, launching the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).
The landmark announcement unveiled by Rwandan President Paul Kagame, the new chair of the AU, aims to transform intra-African air travel, lower prices and increase connectivity.

The initiative has 23 signatories. There are 32 AU members still to come on board.

Take off for African aviation
Opening up the continent's skies could be a huge coup for African airlines, which would work under a common regulatory framework.

It could also benefit intra-continental travelers who are often bound to illogical and time-consuming routes via Europe and the Middle East when flying between African countries.

The agreement will also hope to increase the continent's global share of the aviation industry. The total population of Africa accounts for around 17% globally, but the continent's proportion of air travel passengers varies between 2-4%.

In a statement, Rapahel Kuuchi, Vice President for Africa at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said: "Greater connectivity will lead to greater prosperity."

"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."

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