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Ethiopian champions in liberalizing air transport, open African air transport market: AFRAA Consulting Director

Addis Ababa, May 18, 2024 (FBC) – Ethiopian Airlines has always championed in liberalizing air transport connectivity and opening African Air Transport Market, African Airlines Association (AFRAA) Consulting Director said.

In an exclusive interview with ENA, Consulting Director, Government, Legal and Industry Affairs at AFRAA, Raphael Kuuchi said Ethiopian Airline even long before the AU had come up with a concept of a Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).

The SAATM is a flagship project of the African Union Agenda 2063, to create a single unified air transport market in Africa, the liberalisation of civil aviation in Africa and as an impetus to the continent’s economic integration agenda.

“It has consistently championed for the need to open up the market so that we can have open space for airlines to be able to travel, to operate freely and support the economic development and connectivity of this continent,” the director stated.

This has paid off significantly thus far, he said, adding today Ethiopian is the biggest airline operating on the African continent.

“We want to see other airlines also to come up to where the Ethiopian Airlines is. Ethiopian is not just comfortable being the only one, and the biggest on the continent. Ethiopian is going ahead and supporting other African airlines so that they too can come up because together we are stronger. That is the philosophy.”

Raphael reiterated that we are all behind Ethiopian Airlines so that it can be able to support other African airlines to get where they are not only operationally but also in terms of technical and operational support, making sure that they get equipment and other facilities available.

Moreover, he pointed out that Africa is probably the last continent to fully liberalize air transport connectivity.

“Without liberalization of the air transport market in an internal air transport market in Africa, the airlines will continue to struggle to get passengers and will continue to struggle to grow.”

Hence, the Single African Air Transport Market is an AU initiative to help all African countries open up their air spaces so that we have Africa as a domestic market, he added.

This way we can have African airlines operate more freely, take advantage of the air traffic connectivity across the continent and be able to grow their businesses, become stronger and more competitive against non-African airlines.

On other hand, he noted that the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area is also another opportunity.

“If we liberalize our market, we are able to trade among ourselves and improve the movement of people and facilities,” he underlined.

He stressed we want to see that Africans are able to travel across other African countries, either without visas or visas on arrival, or the acquisition of those visas much easier.

According to him, this way the continent will have more travel, connectivity and trade amongst each others.

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