African Airlines Association (AFRAA) has intensified its campaign for opening up the African airspace by declaring support to the African Union’s (AU) initiative towards a single air transport market by 2017.
Realisation of a single African air transport market in 2017 and the opening up of the airspace to all African airlines were key steps requiring the support of the governments in Africa in order to spur economic development and growth of aviation, AFRAA Secretary-General Elijah Chingosho said.
In order to facilitate aviation development in Africa, Chingosho explained that implementation of policies to reduce the high industry costs, the protection of Africa’s rich bio-diversity and infrastructural development to cope with the growing needs of the airline industry were necessary steps towards ensuring the industry’s growth.
AU Commissioner for Infrastructure Elham Ibrahim has been holding discussions with African air transport ministers at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, in order to agree a plan towards creation of the single air transport market.
Aviation experts said the lack of air connectivity within Africa mostly denied African travellers a chance to connect to destinations within the continent.
In most circumstances, connections are hampered by the inability of various governments to grant landing rights and frequencies to continental air carriers.
Chingosho said in line with the opening up of African skies, the African states should remove non-physical bottlenecks to the movement of people and goods.
He said the removal of restrictive visa regimes and onerous customs clearance procedures would spur growth of the aviation industry.
The AFRAA chief, who addressed airline executives at the 48th Annual General Assembly and Summit in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, called for collaboration among African airlines. He said the airlines required innovative solutions to the challenges facing aviation industry.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwean transport ministry officials announced their country’s support for the opening of the African aviation space and the implementation of radical reforms across the country’s air transport infrastructure, which have resulted into improved aviation facilities.
AFRAA delegates praised the Zimbabwean government for the “remarkable strides” it made in infrastructural development.
“These investments facilitate the development of the Republic of Zimbabwe as one of Africa’s most eminent tourist destinations and spur the development of aviation,” Chingosho told the delegates.
Zimbabwe is among the 15 States that have declared their solemn commitment to fully open their skies immediately and unconditionally in accordance with the Yamoussoukro Decision.
Chingosho appealed to the remaining African states to join the 15 to help in the realisation of the far-sighted vision of a Single African Aviation market.
“This will help spur the development of African aviation which currently accounts for less than 3% of global traffic and where intercontinental traffic is dominated by non-African carriers,” he added.
On aviation safety, Chingosho praised AFRAA, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), civil aviation authorities, airports and governments for their efforts towards the enhancement of safety.
AFRAA reported 2015 as having Africa’s lowest rate of accidents in decades.
During the summit, aviation leaders discussed various challenges facing African aviation and made resolutions on key focus areas.
The airline executives called on the various states to recognize and appreciate the critical social and economic value of aviation and air transport, urging them to facilitate the sustainable development of the industry.
AFRAA membership of 38 airlines cuts across the continent and includes all intercontinental African operators. The Association members represent over 85% of total international traffic carried by African airlines.