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Why the Single African Air Transport Market is Welcome

      By Dan Odido

No meeting on African aviation comes to an end without predictable lamentations about the non-implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision of 1999. The participants will inevitably moan, groan and lament as to why the governments cannot see the ‘obvious benefits’ of implementing its provisions. The Yamoussoukro Decision provided for the full liberalisation of intra-African air transport services in terms of access, capacity and frequency. This is now happening.

Governments have been slow to walk the talk when it comes to liberalisation. Liberalising aviation is particularly difficult for many countries. Aviation has long been a convenient milch cow for money-hungry governments as an easy source of national revenue for the economy. Taxes on aviation are easy to administer. The mode of transport is considered elitist, and governments do not hesitate to overload the industry with ever more taxes.

• Protection of some select existing players at the expense of the country (e.g. national carriers)
• African states have refused to open their skies to each other, but they have opened them to carriers from other continents, e.g. Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines are planning to link Kigali in Rwanda and Entebbe in Uganda using Fifth Freedom rights. Emirates is already operating the same freedom between Entebbe and Addis Ababa ( http://www.aviationbusinessjournal.aero/2012/2/15/implementing-yamoussoukro-decision-is-africa%E2%80%99s-best-choice.aspx )
• Restrictive BASAs

It would be too optimistic to expect everyone to support the implementation of SAATM. I particularly expect airlines, specifically National Carriers, to oppose this gambit.

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