Africa tends to spread its wings in the Aviation sector
Published On 5 Feb, 2018



The cost of traveling from one African country to another is time consuming and quit expensive. An agreement made between the 23 African countries to systemize directives can amend things, even with helping smaller airlines.

Flights between Niger’s capital Niamey and Bamako, the capital of neighboring Mali, are conveyed through the Ivory Coast. Unlucky customers would have to make stopovers in Burkina Faso and Togo during their trip.

As for those traveling from Guinea’s capital Conakry to Lagos, Nigeria, they would have to stop in three cities: Nouakchott in Mauritania, Paris and Amsterdam, before they can get to Nigeria. Istanbul or Dubai also regularly comes in sight on the itineraries of supposedly inter-African flights. These are flight routes taken mostly by Turkish Airlines, Air France or Emirate.


According to what the director of the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority, Wosenyeleh Hunegnaw, told DW that “Eighty percent of the African market is done by non-African carriers,” and that he is completely certain that the circumstances will be more balanced in the near future. A new agreement, signed by 23 African nations this week at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa is supposed to help achieve this goal.

At the heart of the agreement is the concept that airlines of member states should have free access to airports of other member countries in the future. This also means lower costs for inter-African flights and fewer directorates.


A starting advantage for Ethiopia

Bureaucracy reduction in airspace has been a topic that has been discussed for decades. But past accordance, such as the Yamoussoukro in 1999, wasn’t achieved. The business welfare of many countries to guide their partly state-owned companies from competition was of great cost.

Furthermore, the earnings from imprudent take-off and landing fees was a acceptable subsidy for tight budgets. At this year’s meeting in Addis Ababa, there were again doubts. Many thought the agreement would benefit only the major airlines; heavyweights such as Ethiopian Airlines alone would benefit from it.

The initiators of the agreement, including Ethiopia, don’t agree. “The operators which have a bigger capacity can assist those with a lesser capacity by sharing their experience,” says Hunegnaw.

Furthermore, specialist also believe that the larger market share will also benefit smaller airlines in Africa. Ethiopian Airlines, for example, expanded its leadership through its country’s liberal agreements with other states, according to a study conducted by the consulting firm InterVistas on behalf of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).


Benefiting the people

Head of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde Gebremariam, emphasized that compared to the large international companies, Africa’s airlines are very small and it is not possible for the airline to give cheaper connectivity to third countries, like many European airlines such as Ryanair do every day.

He condemns the idea that flying is a rich man’s form of transportation and is determined to make a change to that effect. If the forecasts of the InterVistas study prove to be correct, new competition will reduce ticket prices by more than a third. That would make flying more affordable for millions of Africans. And that’s not all, according to Ethiopia’s Minister of Transport Abdisa Yadeta.

“This will enhance the flow of tourism to our country, and the rest of the African countires.”

But there is still a long way to go. Many doubt that the stressful bureaucracy of the African Union can manage with this new transformation, not to make mention the gains that will be coming from each individual country behind it.


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