By Heidi Gibson – World Air News
It’s been more than 20 years since the Yamoussoukro Decision was adopted effectively committing 44 African countries to the deregulation of air services and the promotion of open skies. Since then, though – it’s been more of a case of a lot of talk and no action.
At the recent IATA 78th AGM and World Air Transport Summit taking place in Doha, Qatar – the first moves towards taking this agreement and turning it into something tangible were revealed at the African and Middle East briefing presented by regional vice president AME Kamil Alawadhi.
He said that last year he had visited Africa and held discussions with key strategic countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, Egypt and South Africa to discuss, among others, ways in which the decision touted to hold important economic boosts could be implemented.
He said IATA had done a GAP analysis on the different African countries aviation sectors and he had also held talks with aviation organisations like AFRAA and AFCAC, ICAO and the African Union.
“If all goes well then we will have a meeting in September with these organization representatives and seven African airlines and I am certain that there will be progress,” he said.
He said he did not want to reveal further information but is hopeful that this meeting could signal the start of the opening of African skies and air services liberaliation.
IATA has been a strong advocate the Single African Air Transport Market or SAATM as it is known – a flagship project of the African Union Agenda 2063 – aimed at creating a single unified air transport market in Africa.
The SAATM was created to expedite the full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision
The economic benefits in terms of gross domestic profit could reach (US) $2.7 billion for the continent and (US) $1.5 billion in increased trade and promises 300,000 jobs.
At the briefing Alawadhi presented figures about the current state of the aviation recovery in Africa and the Middle East. He said according to IATA analysis Africa had recovered 52% from pre-crisis levels.
He said while domestic aviation had almost recovered completely on the continent – regional traffic “is just not there”.
In contract the Middle East is well on its way to recovery.
Leaders of the global aviation, including leading government officials, strategic partners, equipment suppliers have gathered – for the first in person meeting since the Covid-19 pandemic shocked the world.
“The last time we met in Doha, in 2014, we were celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first airline flight. This year’s AGM is another momentous occasion: Airlines are simultaneously recovering from the COVID-19 crisis, setting the path to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, work
ing to improve gender diversity, and adapting to a geopolitical environment that is undergoing its greatest shock in over three decades,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
IATA vice president of the Africa and Middle East Kamil Alawadhi addresses the media at the 78th AGM in Doha Qatar