Africa is set to liberalise its aviation zone by the end of January 2017 and has the potential to double the sector’s size in five years, the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) has said.
AFRAA secretary general Elijah Chingosho told Chinese news agency Xinhua that eight countries, which collectively control 85 per cent of Africa’s air traffic, plan to open their skies to other African airlines.
Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Morocco, Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda and Zimbabwe are ready to implement the Yamoussoukro Declaration that calls for African countries to open their skies to more flights from African airlines.
Chingosho said: “We are likely to achieve the target of having a single African air transport market by the end of January 2017.”
He noted that the main challenge to opening African skies was from nations wishing to protect inefficient national carriers from foreign competition.
“Some of these inefficient airlines lobby their governments not to allow competition from other African airlines,” he said.
“However, we try to convince these governments that competition is good for everybody because it will eventually improve the innovativeness of the sector.”
Chingosho believes the African aviation sector could double in the next five years if the industry is fully liberalised, meaning all bilateral air service agreements are abolished.
He said the continent needed strong airlines to compete with global carriers and small, weak airlines that cannot compete should be discouraged.
AFRAA said the combined fleet of African airlines only numbers 760 aircraft. This is just half the size of American Airlines' 1,494 aircraft.
African airlines account for less than 3% of global aviation revenue.