AIRLINES in Africa have solicited for the support of governments on the continent to wriggle out of their present predicament. Virtually all of them, with the exception of few, are in serious financial straits and urgently need support to survive.
The carriers took their plea to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania where governments, leaders in aviation on the continent, United States and Europe held a three-day summit on how to tackle so many challenges facing aviation in Africa.
Speaking at the just concluded 17th Aviation and Allied Business Leadership Conference with theme, "Air Transport in Africa: Strengthening Leadership, Sustaining Growth, the Secretary General of African Airlines Association (AFRAA), Dr. Elijah Chingosho said air transport was critical in Africa, noting that it needs government support in the face of competition from foreign carriers.
He said there was no way the carriers would survive in the face of huge airport taxes, import duties, skyrocketing price of aviation fuel and other sundry charges.
He alleged that these foreign carriers are doing Africa a great havoc, lamenting that there are too much talk on Yamoussoukro Decision without implementation.
The Yamoussoukro Decision otherwise known as Africa’s own version of ‘open Skies’ remains the single most important air transport reform policy initiative by African Governments to date.
It was adopted out of the recognition that the restrictive and protectionist intra-African regulatory regime based primarily on Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASAs) hampered the expansion and improvement of air transport on the continent.
One of the vital parts of the Decision was liberalization, which was viewed as a means to develop air services in Africa and stimulate the flow of private capital in the industry.
The Yamoussoukro Decision, which entered into force in 2000 evolved from the Yamoussoukro Declaration of 1988. However, throughout the years, the full potential of the Decision has not been realised to unlock commercial opportunities for African Airlines.
About one-third of the countries are reluctant to liberalise for fear that this would expose non-competitive carriers to operational standards that they are unlikely to meet.
Air transport holds tremendous promise and potential for eliminating physical barriers to trade and economic cooperation in Africa. Given the high transaction costs of doing business in the region, a functioning air transport system is an important and necessary condition for regional integration.
It allows African products to reach the most distant markets within the shortest time possible.