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With the launch yesterday of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on the first day of the 30th African Union Summit, African skies have been open to airlines across the continent.
Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Manuela Rebelo, who is part of the Mozambican delegation led by President Filipe Nyusi, explained that the launch of SAATM was an important step taken by the continent towards its economic integration, a challenge for which Mozambique was prepared.
The launch of the initiative was witnessed by representatives of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), the African Association of Airlines (AFRAA), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Boeing, in a demonstration of commitment to the effective implementation of SAATM.
The declaration on the establishment of a Single African Air Transport Market as a flagship project of the AU 2063 Agenda was adopted in 2015 in compliance with the 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision, which provides for full liberalisation of access to air traffic between African states, free exercise of traffic rights, the elimination of restrictions on ownership and full liberalisation of frequencies, tariffs and transportation capacities.
For the time being, the airspace is open in 23 countries which, to date, have joined the single aviation market, namely Mozambique, South Africa, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Congo Brazzaville, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Togo and Zimbabwe.
SAATM poses a major challenge to African states and airlines, a fact acknowledged by the Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications, who admitted that “Mozambique Airlines (LAM) – our flagship company – will not be able to take full advantage of this opening of the market, because it does not have the equipment to meet the challenge. But little by little, it will be able to fly to other spaces”.
At the outset, the opening of the market might seem to jeopardise smaller companies, but Manuela Rebelo says that it was clear in air transportation that no one survived alone.
“There has to be cooperation, collaboration. This is not a matter of competition, it is a question of better serving those who seek the services of air carriers. We all gain from this, and the population gains even more. It is obvious that all states have to strengthen themselves. They will have to do more in order not to lose out on this opportunity, which is everyone’s,” she said.
By José Machado in Addis AbabaSource: Notícias