During an opening poll at the conference, held in Addis Ababa on March 4-5, 40% of delegates identified the lack of open skies as African aviation’s biggest challenge, attracting more votes than any other issue.
“One of primary challenges for a favourable industry is poor connectivity, which continues to contribute to Africa’s low share of the international aviation market,” Tefera said, in his keynote address.
He said AFCAC is continuing to take a leadership role, as the executing agency of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), with 33 countries already having committed to the SAATM initiative.
However, more work is needed to bring additional states on board and to support practical implementation of SAATM.
Tefera used the summit to announce that AFCAC has secured $6.7 million from the African Development Bank, under an agreement that will be finalised over the coming days.
He said these funds will be used to fully operationalise AFCAC, as the SAATM executing agency, including the deployment of enforcement officers for consumer protection, fair competition and dispute settlement.
Other targets for the funding include further advocacy efforts and more than $500,000 to support airlines with SAATM implementation.
“The time now is fit to test the functionality of the single market. AFCAC hopes to work with African airlines to enjoy fully liberalised market without hinderance,” Tefera said, urging airlines to lodge complaints if SAATM states do not allow fifth-freedom access.
AFCAC is also holding a series of four economic-oversight workshops, two of which will be held in Ethiopian and Nigeria, to help overcome the issues of high taxation and fees.
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