South Africa’s Transport Minister Dipuo Peters hosted Transport Ministers from around Africa as part of a ministerial working group to establishment of a single air transport market in Africa.
The meeting held in Johannesburg acknowledged that air travel was essential to the prosperity of Africa, as it opened up opportunities that did not exist before – including Tourism.
Minister Peters said the meeting establishment a plan to make a single African air transport market a reality by 2017, as members of the current Bureau of the Conference of the African Ministers of Transport (CAMT) and Ministers from a select total number of fifteen states took part.
“Fostering the African aviation industry may be one of the driving forces of regional integration on the continent. Better connected African countries and regions, through a viable air transport industry, could be the catalyst that can boost intra-African business, trade, tourism as well as cultural exchanges,” said Peters.
However, the performance of the African aviation industry still lags behind the rest of the world as performance is hampered by “a poor record of safety and security, lack of adequate resources and infrastructure, distance and limited connectivity, lack of regulation and government actions”.
While South African national carrier South African Airways (SAA) belongs to the largest global alliance in terms of market share – Star Alliance – the alliance only holds 27% of the international air traffic market, ahead of Sky Team (19%). Airlines outside these alliances still command the biggest share at 38% of the global market, the report said.
In Africa, the industry is being hampered by constraints such as a poor record of safety and security, lack of adequate resources and infrastructure, distance and limited connectivity, lack of regulation and government actions.
Minister Peters said despite the growing awareness of aviation industry as a development catalyst for the continent, the industry was still not a priority for most African governments.
Minister Peters said African countries are reluctant, despite increased liberalisation of the African aviation industry, with some African governments still hesitant to open their skies amongst each other – yet are “open to non-African countries through the Open Skies and Horizontal Agreements”.
Peters made a call for African countries to first link with their own African neighbouring countries before forging links with other countries, challenging governments to “enhance the regulation of aerospace management, consumer protection and the safety of airlines”.
The AUC Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Dr Elham Ibrahim said it was time to end the marginalisation of Africa in the air transport market by establishing a single air transport market and creating an extra 155 000 job opportunities in the key markets, namely: South Africa, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, Guinea, Namibia, Tunisia, Chad, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Angola.
For SA in particular, air transport has been identified as “one of its economic pillars and as a major deterrent to the triple scourge of unemployment, inequality and poverty”.