Akwaaba Aviation Day: IATA urges Nigerian Carriers to take SAATM serious because of its huge benefits
Lack of open skies policy and inadequate integration has been tagged major obstacles to Air Transport growth in the African continent.
This was the submission of the International Air Transport Association’s IATA, Vice President for Africa, Mrs. Funke Adeyemi noted that liberalization and integration eliminates unnecessary restrictions while allowing more players in the aviation industry free access to key into the single African market, leading to increased growth and development.
Delivering a paper entitled: “Interconnectivity in Africa and the Challenges in Implimenting the Single African Air Transport Market, SAATM, Policy, among African Nations” at the just concluded Aviation Day at 14th edition of Akwaaba African Travel Market, Mrs. Adeyemi emphasized that integration between different country’s airlines without restrictions on routes, capacity and pricing and makes it easier for carriers to provide affordable, convenient and efficient Air service for customers.
She urged Nigerian airlines to take advantage of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) in order to expand their operations across the continent, inaugurated by Heads of States of the African Union (AU) in January to deepen bilateral relations among countries and foster cooperation among the airlines.
“It is 45 per cent more expensive to fly across Africa than any other region in the world.
“That is why we are trying to let African governments know that is not an elitist means of transportation,” she said.
The IATA’s Vice President, Africa, noted that Nigerian carriers have right to fly into about 40 African countries and can establish hubs in these countries these countries through negotiations and mutually beneficial air service agreements, adding African airlines should form alliances among themselves to improve their operations as well as profits, adding that some of them already belonged to international platforms like Star Alliance.
Corroborating the IATA’s Representative, the Senior Manager, Air Nambia, Mr Wimpie Van Vuuren, said SAATM had helped the airline to expand its operations into Ghana and Nigeria despite the initial fears.
He said African airlines should look beyond the initial challenges of the policy and find ways to make it beneficial to their operations.
In the same vein, the Former Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Mr. Richard Aisuebeogun, in his presentation on ‘ The Role of Infrastructure and Passenger Growth in Africa’, observed that the growth in the aviation industry was constrained by the high industry costs, inadequate infrastructure at several airports, lack of interconnectivity between African countries airlnes, weak currency and unfavourable government policies.
He said governments must find ways to address the infrastructural deficit in the aviation sector in Africa.
“The upgrade of airport infrastructures will not only help reduce air fares but would attract more investors to the sector”.
Moderator of the session, Former Managing director, Skyway Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL), Mr. Chike Ogeah, harped on the need for government to commercialize the airports as this remained the only way airports could function effectively in Africa, adding that not airport is managed by government is developed countries.
“If we need to get airports to work for us, we have to commercialise them, governments should not be interested in business bit must only create the enabling environment. African countries have to develop their airports to attract businesses”, he said.