Open skies topped the agenda


“The slow implementation of the

Yamoussoukro Decision on the part of individual countries continues to be

Call for liberalisation...

An open skies arrangement is unlikely to be introduced in Africa until governments on the continent see their airlines as businesses, not personal play things. Speaking at the Routes Africa

Strategy Summit in Tenerife, Raphael Kuuchi, the VP of Africa at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said the failure of countries to accept the need for liberalisation was endemic across the continent. He argued that only by allowing

airlines to succeed or fail according to their commercial abilities could governments understand and accept the need for open skies arrangements. Kuuchi said: “If governments want

to have an airline, they have to set them up as a business, not as an opportunity for free travel for government appointees and people in high places.” He also suggested that there was

plenty of room in the African market for low-cost carriers (LCCs) which would stimulate new demand, and argued fewer barriers are placed on airlines outside of Africa than those based on the continent. African Airlines Association (AFRAA) secretary general Elijah Chingosho said the decision in 2014 by 12 African countries to start liberalising skies between them had paid off. He added: “I’ve seen more desire than I have ever seen before to see Africa opening up [its skies].” ACI Africa secretary general

Ali Tounsi suggested that the countries most likely to open up their skies to other carriers were the ones with the most confidence in their own national airlines, adding: “This is partly out of survival.”

... but African open skies still a far off prospect

Even partial open skies are unlikely to happen in Africa within the next year. Taking part in a Q&A session at

the Strategy Summit, Dr Elijah Chingosho, secretary general of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), said despite numerous promises, the continent was not likely to see new liberalisation any time soon. However, he added that even if the legislation were to be passed tomorrow, many airlines operating on the continent are not in a position to take full advantage of the liberalisation.

Dr Chingosho said many of the airlines currently operating in Africa are also becoming concerned about the prospect of open skies, as it could create more competition from the likes of European, American and Gulf carriers, for which they are unprepared. He argued low-cost carriers

were unlikely to succeed on the continent due to the “high cost environment” of operating there as many Africans consider flying simply for “rich people”, as opposed to a method of transportation that is badly needed given the size of the region and the infrastructure problems.

“Some African governments still see aviation as a cash cow. It’s very easy to tax the business. Air passengers have the money to fly so can pay.”

Elijah Chingosho Secretary general,

African Airlines Association

an Achilles heel for the industry in the region, inhibiting its ability to meet growing capacity demands.”

Ali Tounsi Secretary general, ACI Africa

“Small is certainly not beautiful in the aviation industry. Unless you evolve your model, grow or build relationships with others, you are going to die sooner or later.”

Raphael Kuuchi VP Africa, IATA

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community, follow @Routesonline ROUTES NEWS 2016 ISSUE 5 13

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