The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has launched a campaign for the implementation of Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).
The continental open skies project is to create a single market for air transport in Africa.
Once completed, the SAATM, will allow more market access for airlines, remove restrictions on ownership, extend air traffic rights and liberalised flight frequency and capacity limits.
At its meeting in Dakar, COMESA agreed to finalise and execute the SAATM roadmap.
However, only six of its countries, Egypt, Ethiopia, DR Congo, Kenya, eSwatini and Zimbabwe have signed the commitment to date.
Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi have not yet signed, which means more than 1.7 million travellers from the region will wait longer to enjoy these benefits.
Last year, the African Union heads of state launched SAATM shortly after a joint action plan for 2018-19 developed by aviation industry stakeholders to operationalise SAATM.
COMESA senior transport economist Bernard Dzawanda, who attended the Dakar meeting, said they agreed this year to finalise and execute the SAATM implementation roadmap, and on the need for early completion of the 55-country study on SAATM socio-economic benefits to the continent.
“One of the key activities in the prioritised action plan was the signing and implementation of the Memorandum of Co-operation between the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs),” Mr Dzawanda said.
COMESA signed the memorandum of the establishment of SAATM with AFCAC in 2018.
It is currently the lead REC on the formulation and implementation of an €8 million ($9.07 million) East and Southern African aviation programme to be funded under 11th European Development Fund (EDF 11).
The East African Community and the Economic Commission of West African States were among the RECs that reported on progress.