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Aviation: Air carriers advised to embrace African market

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Nigerian carriers have been advised to take advantage of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) to expand their operations across the continent.

The global airlines’ regulator International Air Transport Association (IATA) said this would be of advantage to Nigerian carriers, to deepen the operational market by flying into more than 40 countries.

Besides, flight to scores of countries, IATA said, would create a window for Nigerian carriers to foster cooperation among carriers on the continent.

Its Vice President, Africa, Adefunke Adeyemi, disclosed this in an interview with The Nation. According to her, the continental initiative signed by African Union in January, this year, would also create a robust window for African carriers to establish their hubs in many countries through negotiations and mutually benefitting air services agreements.

SAATM initiative by the African Union (AU) is to open up Africa’s skies and improve intra-African air connectivity. Besides enhancing connectivity for African carriers, Adeyemi said SAATM would stimulate demand, improve the competitiveness of the African airline industry by making air travel more accessible.

Adeyemi said no Nigerian carrier was flying to Chad and Niger Republic despite the presence of a viable trade on the routes.

She said it was unfortunate that the airlines were not taking advantage of the SAATM the way Ethiopian Airlines had done so far including its entering into a technical partnership with Asky Airline.

Adeyemi said African airlines should form alliances among themselves to improve their operations as well as profits, adding that some of them already belong to international platforms like Star Alliance.

She added that the airlines should also strive to get the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certificate which would enable them play on the global stage.

Adeyemi also decried the high cost of air fares in Africa, which she attributed to excessive aviation charges by African governments and the notion that air travel was exclusively for the rich.

“It is 45 per cent more expensive to fly across Africa than any other region in the world.
“That is why we are trying to let African governments know that is not an elitist means of transportation,” she said.

By Kelvin Osa Okunbor
Source: thenationonlineng.net

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