We’ve got some great news for travellers who do frequent business throughout Africa. It looks like the African continent is poised to free its air services, which could lead to newly established routes and some much needed market rivalry. After many years of enduring torturous routes when flying throughout Africa, business travellers might now finally have cause for optimism regarding the state of air travel over the continent.
This realisation comes in the wake of a proposal by the African Union and African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) to establish a Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) that would be based on similar legislature as the European Commission’s Single European Skies framework. This stands to benefit all airspace users by ensuring the safe and efficient utilisation of airspace and the air traffic management system within and beyond the continent.
As it stands, only 17 out of 55 African Union members have agreed to form part of SAATM, but these include South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt and Kenya - the continent's leading economies and legislative trailblazers in all respects. The cooperation of more African countries seems imminent and will serve to cement this forward-thinking coalition. A united front has the potential to result in an immense traffic increase throughout the region, better management and utilisation of existing ground facilities, as well as improved air connectivity and many welcome job opportunities that will spur socio-economic growth.
In fact, conservative estimates put the number of potential jobs at 155 000 and the annual GDP increase at a substantial US$1.3 billion. At the moment 5 million+ potential airfares are lost every year due to a lack of sufficient air routes - a direct result of unnecessary restrictions that prohibit the establishment thereof. If the SAATM is successful, the continent will benefit from a greater percentage of airfares going to African airlines, while business travellers can look forward to vastly reduced travel times across the continent as more direct connections are established. What's more, air services liberalisation also has the potential to increase passenger capacity - a benefit what will be passed on to the consumer in the form of lowered airfares.
If travel throughout the African continent forms part of your business endeavours, it pays to be aware of potential new routes and lowered airfares. Fortunately, the TravelManor team has its collective finger on the pulse of matters like these, so we'll be sure to inform you of any developments in this regard. Keep your eye on the blog for more news as this proposed policy develops.