Feb 2018 2nd Edition

Trans-continental travel gets a boost

The Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) is set to promote trade and cross-border investments.

The African Union (AU) has reassured small airlines that a support package will be streamlined for the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).

The SAATM is a flagship project of AU Agenda 2063. It aims to create a single unified air transport market and the liberalisation of civil aviation in Africa and to be an impetus to the continent's economic integration agenda.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, who is the current chair of the 55-member African bloc, and Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission, unveiled the plaque on the premises of the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa recently, marking the inauguration of the SAATM.

 Following the launch, small airline institutions voiced their concerns that the agreement would be in favour of relatively bigger airlines.

Abou-Zeid Amani, the AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, said that a support package will be streamlined as an integral part of the SAATM initiative  to avoid such concerns.

"With every big project there are always challenges, but we are very much aware of the different challenges for countries or companies in various areas," Amani said.

"We encourage member countries to look at the bigger picture and towards the benefits of SAATM to the economy at large, not just specific challenges," she added.

According to Amani the benefits of SAATM are huge, hence AU member countries and airline companies should focus on the advantages of the initiative and the bigger picture.

Some African airline institutions, including the Ethiopian Airlines Group, have commended the AU's move to launch the much-anticipated SAATM.

So far, 23 out of 55 African countries have subscribed to the SAATM and 44 have signed the Yamoussoukro Decision which advocates the full liberalisation of intra-African air transport services.

According to the AU, the launch of SAATM is expected to spur more opportunities to promote trade and cross-border investment in the production and service industries, including tourism, resulting in the creation of an additional 300 000 direct and two million indirect jobs.

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