Single Air Transport Market

Intra-Africa air travel can be complicated. There are few intra-Africa flights, and if combined with delays it may be more efficient to travel via Europe or the Middle East when heading from one African city to another. Would you like an interesting anecdote? Check out the earlier article “Intra-Africa business travel”.  But the situation is expected to improve substantially with the establishment of a Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) – one of the flagship projects of Agenda 2063.

In 2014, African Union Commission Chair Dr. Dlamini Zuma stated: “Connecting Africa through aviation and other transport infrastructure is critical to integration, intra-Africa trade, as well as to tourism, economic growth and development more generally. The sector is also an important creator of jobs and critical skills on the continent. The aviation sector is strategic for the implementation of Agenda 2063.”

Indeed, many academic studies have shown that air market liberalisation has a positive impact on economic growth, increases competition and reduces air fares. It  increases consumers’ well-being, and has relevant positive externalities for a wide range of industries (see Measuring the economic effects of bilateral liberalization air transport  and Air transport liberalization and its impacts on airline competition and air passenger traffic).

Visa openness helps boost business
Visa openness helps boost business

The SAATM initiative was supposed to be introduced this coming month but so far only 15 countries have fully committed to implementing this decision. A large majority of African countries still want to keep their own airlines as a symbol of national pride, becoming a hindrance to the process.

However, committed countries are already experiencing great success. To give you an idea of such success: passenger traffic between South Africa and Kenya experienced a 69% increase after having opened air services and reduced fares. Positive experiences such as this may trigger similar responses in other countries.

Any suggestion or prediction about how this process is going to turn out?

Nadim Elayan, Research Assistant at IESE Business School, collaborated in this article.

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2 thoughts on “Single Air Transport Market

  1. Thank you, Nadim! This is an interesting finding. I am currently on field research work in East Africa and I can see the pros and cons of intra-trade in this fast growing East Africa region … thanks to the three regional airlines -Kenya Airways, Rwanda Air, and a born again … Air Tanzania!- which are making connectivity in the region possible, faster and efficient!
    Salaam, Aloysius

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