SAATM challenges and learnings from the EU: AFRAA Secretary General Intervention at the Connecting Europe Days.


AFRAA Secretary General – Mr Abderahmane Berthé, intervened in a panel session during the Connecting Europe Days on the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) on what lessons learnt from the air transport liberalization in the EU can be useful for SAATM.

On the challenges impeding the implementation of SAATM, Mr Berthé stated: “The air transport market in Africa is relatively small, we have seen some protectionism attitudes aiming to protect national carriers. Of course, this is a wrong approach because by nature traffic rights are reciprocal. it is therefore critical to increase the market size and facilitate its access.” To achieve this, he highlighted the following need to be addressed:

  1. Affordability of air transport for African citizens: reduce cost of operations and taxes and charges.
  2. African economy growth: GDP per capita (only 15% of global GDP per capita).
  3. Trade and tourism development: Intra-Africa trade is below 20% compared to more than 50% in other regions. Intra-Africa tourism is very small. In Africa when we talk about tourism, we are looking to tourism from non-African regions.
  4. Facilitation of air travel through visa openness is also critical. 50% of African citizens need a visa to travel within Africa.
  5. Airlines’ cooperation: commercial agreements and partnerships are essential to improve connectivity. AFRAA Route Network and Cargo Coordination is aimed at creating a forum for airlines to cooperate. Another success factor is airline consolidation. Over the past 18 years, the African continent has had the lowest level of market consolidation compared to the other regions in the globe. The engagement of States, airlines and all the relevant stakeholders is necessary to effectively achieve the required outcomes on airline consolidation in Africa.

This session looked into SAATM as a key to open the door for aviation to play a major role in connecting Africa, promoting its social, economic and political integration and boosting intra-Africa trade and tourism as a result.

The session gave insights into the state-of-play of the SAATM by AUC and AFCAC, and the challenges seen by other key African aviation stakeholders like AFRAA. EASA presented some key lessons learnt from the air transport liberalization in the EU.

The event was organized by the European Commission together with the Belgian Presidency of the Council in Brussels from 2-5 April 2024.