The need for African countries to liberalize their airspace for continental grown airlines’ was one of the major issues that was expounded on during the 24th African Aviation MRO (Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul) Suppliers and Stakeholders Conference, which was held from March 16 to 18 at the Sheraton Addis.
A call was made to adhere to early promises where nations should uphold the agreement they had signed in 1988 in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast, to liberalize their airspace to other African airlines. So far, only 11 countries including Ethiopia have committed to the agreement, it was attested at the conference.
“In 1988, 44 countries adopted the agreement which is a legal document, to liberalize their airspace. But today, only 11 countries remain committed. Countries need to hold up their agreement and work towards liberalizing the continent’s airspace by 2017,” said Nick Fadugba, CEO of African Aviation Services.
It was stated that airlines’ within many African countries might have a concern regarding bigger airlines in the continent dominating the smaller ones. But, according to Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam that is not a real concern.
“Some countries do have this concern, but I don’t believe it is a real concern. Maybe, it is a perceived concern, because there are no such big airlines’ in Africa. If you go through the facts, all indigenous airlines in Africa put together, they are smaller than Emirates,” he said.
He also stated that the reason Africa still has small airlines and fragmented market is simply because the working environment is not conducive for the industry to grow on the continent.
“Twenty years ago, the combined market share of African airlines was more than 60 percent. Back then, there were airlines such as Air Afrique, Ghana Airways, Nigerian Airways and such. But they all died because they didn’t get support from their governments and they were not able to fly to their neighboring countries,” he said.
Currently, only 20 percent of the market share of air transpiration in Africa is controlled by African airlines, the other 80 percent is controlled by foreign operators.
The conference recommended if all countries agreed to liberalize their airspace, it will have a huge effect on growth of market shares for continental grown airlines.
The 24th African Aviation MRO Suppliers and Stakeholders Conference saw the participation of many international companies and airlines that are looking to do business in the Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) sector.