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IATA reiterates African states should open skies for air service liberalization

IATA reiterates African states should open skies for air service liberalization

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reiterated that African countries should open skies to each other to secure social and economic benefits the African continent is missing out on.

An event, which dwelt upon AITA's study on "the economic impact of intra-African air service liberalization," was convened on Monday in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, where speakers emphasized the need for African countries to the speedy implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision.

Though African nations adopted the Yamoussoukro Decision about 15 years back, which committed them to deregulating air services and to promoting regional air markets opening to transnational competition, implementation of the agreement has been slow and limited, says IATA in its report.

Thus, the potential benefits of liberalizing intra-African air markets remain largely unrealized, it says.

"Liberalization can lead to increased air service levels and lower fares, which in turn stimulates additional traffic volumes, facilitates tourism, trade, investment and other sectors of the economy and brings about enhanced productivity, economic growth and increased employment," says the study undertaken in 2014 to examine the impacts of liberalizing intra-African air markets.

The study looks at 12 African countries in the sub-regions including, Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia (North); Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda (East), Angola, Namibia, South Africa (South), and Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal (West).

Liberalization, full air connectivity among the 12 countries could add 155,000 jobs and 1.3 billion U.S. dollars to the GDPs of the 12 countries every year and many other benefits, said Raphael Kuuchi, IATA Vice President for Africa.

"We are saying if we liberalize among the 12 countries, we are going to generate 155,000 jobs every year; we are going to also get another 500,000 people that are currently not travelling by air to be able to travel because fares will come down; we are going to be able to add 1.3 billion (dollars) every year to the GDPs of the 12 countries," said Kuuchi to reporters here in Addis Ababa.

African states should open up their markets rather than restrict it and this requires commitment of governments, he noted.

Speaking at Monday's event, Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO of the Ethiopian Airlines, noted that 82 percent of intercontinental traffic to/from Africa is carried by non-African carriers.

"Eighty-two percent of intercontinental travel is carried by non-Africans; only 18 percent is carried by all African airlines put together; we have only 18 percent market share," said Tewolde.

The CEO underlined the need to liberalize African skies for African carriers; to address tax issues; to invest more in infrastructure development; to deploy latest technology; and to forge innovative and strong partnership between African airlines among others to boost the market share by African carriers.

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