The African Union (AU) has finally launched the long waited Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM). African countries have thus taken a major step towards opening the continent’s skies.
The Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) is a flagship project of the African Union Agenda 2063, an initiative of the African Union to create a single unified air transport market in Africa, the liberalization of civil aviation on the continent. The initiative is largely based on the agreements of the Yamoussoukro Decision of 1999.
Newly elected chair of the AU, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, said in his acceptance speech in Addis Ababa.: “Today we launch the Single African Air Transport Market, a major step forward for transportation. We are nearly ready to adopt the Continental Free Trade Area. It needs to be done this year”.
Benefits of the SAATM
One of them is: the enhanced connectivity between African nations and a reduction in flight ticket prices. Consequently, more regular direct flights between African countries. Another one is the promise of job creation, improved intra-African trade and freer movement of people.
Indeed, a 2014 study by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), showed that liberalizing routes for 12 key African countries on the continent could bring an extra $1.3 billion to the continent’s annual GDP, and over 150,000 additional jobs.
In addition, liberalized airline routes on the continent will inadvertently boost Africa’s tourism revenues, and increase intra-African tourism.
So far, 23 countries have signed up to the agreement. Eligible airlines of the 23 countries are, effective this season, are entitled to conduct their business into the markets and fully operate the traffic rights provided for in the Yamoussoukro Decision: