SIX countries from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa member states including Zimbabwe have so far signed a commitment towards the setting up of a single African Air Transport Market.
In a statement, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) said the signing of the instrument, also known as the Solemn Yammassoukro Commitment by Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Swaziland puts the regional air transport liberalisation programme on course.
“This was revealed during the 11th Joint Meeting of Committees on Transport and Communications, Information technology and Energy that took place at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies in Nairobi, Kenya.
“Delegates from the Member States discussed the benefits of liberalising air transport as it has been supported by empirical evidence.
“This includes fare savings, greater connectivity, time savings, greater convenience and positive impact on other sectors of the economy,” said Comesa.
It said member States that fail to liberalise may therefore not reap its benefits.
The meeting was also informed that Comesa has signed a Memorandum of Co-operation on the operationisation of the Single African Air Transport Market with the African Civil Aviation Commission which was the implementing agency of the African Union Commission.
Liberalisation of air transport is provided for in Article 87 (3c).
Subsequently, the Comesa Legal Notice No 2 of 1999 became the main regulatory guiding instrument on the licensing of operators, ownership and control of airlines.
In addition, Comesa said the notice provides for granting traffic rights to designated operators and service frequencies between city pairs in the regional trading bloc.
The report on the status of regional airlines projects includes a combination of success and failures.
According to Comesa, part of the report reads, “Over the years, most major regional airlines have managed to expand their route networks, with the small airlines experiencing notable challenges over the recent years.
“Some major airlines forged alliances and strategic partnerships with other major global industry players, a development that has improved service delivery and viability.”
Comesa noted that the injection of big modern aircraft by some of its member States and other States in the East and Southern Africa region like Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, Egypt Air, Air Mauritius and South African Airways has increased capacity and improved services.
Other airlines such as Rwanda-Air have expanded their regional and continental footprint.
By Oliver Kazunga