African Union foreign ministers meet as single aviation market beckons

African Union foreign ministers meet as single aviation market beckons

Representatives of 55 African countries will congregate in Addis Ababa today for the AU executive council meeting to discuss, among other matters, the continent’s long-awaited single air transport market on January 28. The plan, originally agreed to in the Yamoussoukro Decision in 1999, has only now come to fruition after years of glacial implementation. It

Africa skies open

Photo: Mango

Representatives of 55 African countries will congregate in Addis Ababa today for the AU executive council meeting to discuss, among other matters, the continent’s long-awaited single air transport market on January 28.

The plan, originally agreed to in the Yamoussoukro Decision in 1999, has only now come to fruition after years of glacial implementation. It will allow the opening up of national air markets to foreign competition in the 23 participating countries, which, up to now, had mostly protectionist policies to shelter their national carriers.

The open skies market will likely facilitate growth in air travel on a continent that has 12% of the world’s population but only 1% of its aviation market. Easier access for foreign airlines is likely to push up competition and drive down prices, facilitating economic growth in key sectors, like tourism. It is touted as creating 300,000 direct and 2 million indirect jobs.

However, any growth will continue to be limited by airlines’ going out of business and non-participating countries’ visa and air route restrictions—mostly smaller countries fearing competition will bankrupt their homegrown airlines.

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