AFRAA Secretary General, Mr Abderahmane Berthe during a session at the 69th ACI Africa Conference on 1st March 2023 in Kigali on theme: “Harnessing of SAATM Opportunities for the Industry – Airline Implementation Programme” intervened on ongoing industry actions on the Implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), headwinds being faced and recommendations to effective implementation of SAATM.
In his presentation, he elaborated the status updates on ongoing actions of the Air Transport Sustainability – SAATM Roadmap, the connectivity drivers as well as industry initiatives by various stakeholders on SAATM.
With regards to status of direct flights and 5th freedom flights in Africa, Mr Berthe reported that 85% of intra-African flights are directs while 15% connecting with one stop or more. Among those direct flights, 5th freedom represent only 21%, while the share of 3rd and 4th freedom flights is 79%.
From AFRAA data hub, it was reported that ASKY airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, and Kenya Airways were the African airlines operating the highest number of 5th freedom routes. He added that African airlines operate only 14% of their direct flights on 5th freedom while 86% on 3rd and 4th freedom. Non-African carriers operate a most important share of their direct flights in 5th freedom in Africa.
With regards to granting of 5th freedom traffic rights by African States, AFRAA reporting framework by its member airlines revealed that among 8 (eight) reporting airlines, some have mentioned traffic rights denial by 11 African states.
On opportunities from SAATM, Mr Berthe highlighted that SAATM is a crucial stepping-stone to make air travel a reality for African citizens, it will grow regional air transport which will to drive economic growth and transform lives.
Recommendations to effective implementation of SAATM.
Mr Berthe Made the following recommendations:
- African States to be willing and ready to implement SAATM and to stop denial of 5th freedom traffic rights to African airlines.
- Governments to stop over taxation of aviation.
- Air transport stakeholders to collaborate to implement the roadmap of the air transport sustainability that was developed by the 2022 Laboratory.
- Reduce costs along the air transport value chain.
- Collaboration among airlines to improve connectivity and deliver a better service quality.
- Right size fleet strategy to improve routes profitability and to connect secondary airports.
- States, industry, airports to work together to implement the African Routes Development Strategy forum.