According to IATA data, over 14 million people travel by airlines across Africa, but 80 percent of these travellers use foreign airlines. So why is this so?
Ethiopian Airways chief executive, Tewolde GebreMariam, says foreign airlines dominance in African skies is due to poor liberalization policies by governments across the continent.
The industry expert agree with GebreMariam and indicated that the remedy to this annomaly was for African nations to enact instruments of single African airspace and liberalize air transport as stipulated in the Yamoussoukro Declaration.
The Yamoussoukro Declaration, which has been consented by African governments, will allows more local airlines to operate more points and reduce the intercontinental and intercountry travel hardships experienced in Africa. This will help airlines in the continent to grow rapidly and improve on their safety and financial strength.
GebreMariam told Daily Times that Nigeria, the most populous and top economy in Africa, holds the key to this success.
“I sincerely wish that Nigeria would lead the change because Nigeria is a big aviation market, a big country, the most populous country, the largest economy in the continent. Nigeria has a lot of ways to drive this initiative. Nigerian carriers can do more, but in terms of coverage, Ethiopian Airways is doing fine. We are covering four points in Nigeria,” he said.
GebreMariam also said that regional carriers should push for opening of more routes to serve the continent’s passengers better with more ease.
At the moment African airlines, under the aegis of African Airlines Association (AFRAA) are pushing for the formulation of an aviation policy on single airspace for the continent. If this policy is ratified by all member countries where the entire Africa’s airspace will be treated as a single airspace.
“The formulation of an aviation policy on single market for Africa would be like what the European community has today,” GebreMariam said “Member states of European Union treat the market as a single airspace. So, they have full freedom of the air for their airlines.”
This he said will enable African carriers, including South African Airways, Kenya Airways or Arik Airlines to fly to European countries through another African country without an airline.