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AVIATION: Open the East African skies

Source: Relevant airport authority and civil aviation authority websites.

Boost to trade and tourism

Lilian Awinja, the chief executive officer at EABC, however, says liberalisation of air transport will positively contribute growth in trade and tourism, inward investment, productivity growth, increased employment and economic development.

She said liberalisation also offers a means to restructure national carriers and increase profitability by expanding into new markets, accessing a wider pool of investment and through consolidation.

“The EAC should harmonize air transport regulations specifically taxes across the region, finalise the EAC Liberalisation of Air Transport Regulations and also fully implement Yamoussoukro Decision,” she said.

Raphael Kuuchi, the vice president for Africa at the Geneva-based International Air Transport Association said during the World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali last year that benefits of connectivity in Africa are clear.

“Europe’s air liberalisation was not only a coup for the industry but also passengers. In the short space of eight years (1992-2000), the 100 year-old industry witnessed a surge in activity,” he said.

He said the number of direct flight between European countries increased by nearly 75%, with the passengers enjoying 88% more flight options and consequently leading to 15% drop in air fares.

He argued that when South Africa opened its market to Kenyan airlines, the number of passengers jumped by 70% and when Africa’s most southern country granted traffic rights to Zambian airlines fares reduced by 40% and passenger numbers increased.

A study by IATA forecast that if just 12 of Africa’s economies opened their skies to each other, fares would drop by up to 35% and an extra five million Africans could afford to fly. In addition, 155,000 new jobs would be created and US$1.3 billion added to the GDP.

Currently, aviation industry supports around seven million jobs and more than US$80 billion (Shs 285.65 trillion) in GDP on the African continent, according to IATA.

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