Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Rwanda and Zimbabwe are set to meet a single air transport market target by the end of next year, Secretary-General, African Airlines Association (AFRAA), Dr. Elijah Chingosho, has said.
He said the nations were ready to implement the Yamoussoukro Declaration that calls for African countries to open their skies to more flights from African Airlines.
In an online interview, the AFRAA scribe noted that Africa is set to liberalise its aviation zone by the end of next January as it has the potential to double the sector’s size in five years.
He said eight countries, which collectively control 85 per cent of Africa’s air traffic, planned to open their skies to other African airlines.
“Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Morocco, Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda and Zimbabwe are ready to meet the target.
“We are likely to achieve the target of having a single African air transport market by the end of January 2017,” he said in the online response to media inquiries.
He noted that the main challenge to opening African skies is from nations wishing to protect inefficient national carriers from foreign competition.
“Some of these inefficient airlines lobby their governments not to allow competition from other African airlines.
“However, we try to convince these governments that competition is good for everybody because it will eventually improve the innovativeness of the sector,” he added.
Chingosho believes the African aviation sector can double in the next five years if the industry is fully liberalised. To achieve this, all bilateral air service agreements should be abolished.
He said the continent needed strong airlines to compete with global carriers and small, weak airlines, adding that those that cannot compete should be discouraged.
According to AFRAA, the combined fleet of African airlines only numbers 760 aircraft, lamenting that this is just half the size of one single airline such as American Airlines (AA) with 1,494 aircraft.
He noted that African airlines accounted for less than three per cent of global aviation revenue.