Ethiopia Airlines to support single African air transport market policy – WoldeMariam

Ethiopian Airlines has reiterated that the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) policy would give the carriers from the continent the opportunity to dominate the continent’s sky.

This is as the airline said that it would continue to take the growth of African airlines and aviation as a top priority.

Speaking during a tour of Ethiopian Airlines facilities at its Addis Ababa corporate headquarters in Ethiopia during the week, Mr Esayas WolderMariam, the Acting Chief Commercial Officer, Ethiopian Airlines, said that the management would continue to spearhead the implementation of SAATM for the continent.

WoldeMariam lamented that airlines from the continent constitute only 3 per cent of the total aviation market, stressing that 80 per cent of the total 3 per cent is operated by non-African airlines, while only 20 per cent is left for airlines in the continent.

He, however, expressed hope that with the implementation of SAATM, African airlines would dominate the continent’s skies and curb capital flight out of Africa.

He said: “We are not just working towards SAATM, we created it. When Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was the Head of the African Union Commission, Ethiopian Airlines spearheaded the push to have SAATM because before, what you call the Yamoussoukro Decision was defunct. So, we needed something modern that could work. Zuma then told us to go and bring along some other airlines. So, we brought a few airlines together and we went in. She was convinced of the initiative; afterwards, the African governments discussed and ratified it.

“SAATM gives opportunity to African airlines to dominate African skies. Right now, from Africa to the world and from the world to Africa, our airlines constitute only 3 per cent of the total aviation market by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and 80 per cent of that 3 per cent is operated by non-African airlines, while only 20 per cent is left for us. But, with SAATM, we would dominate the African traffic.”

He expressed that airlines on the continent would work with each other once SAATM comes into force, adding that the operators would connect cultures, people and goods in Africa.

For this reason, he said the Ethiopian Government commenced online visa processing for travellers, while visa on arrival for all Africans was also available.

“This is because many African countries delay or deny visas for fellow African citizens, while they give to people who are coming from the northern hemisphere,’ he said.

He pointed out that rather than build a 30,000-kilometre rail line, a 3-kilometre runway for the aircraft would be able to connect in a cheaper way for all people in Africa to buy and sell from each other.

He explained further that Africa was transacting only 10 per cent with each other and 90 per cent overseas, but insisted that the Ethiopian Government would ensure stoppage of such practices, which doesn’t favour Africans.

“…and we want that to change so that employment and capital will remain within the African soil. So, SAATM is our making and we are working very hard towards its success because that would be the best thing for all African airlines. The African Union Commission for trade and investment is working seriously for its realisation and they are going to push for that so that the rest of the African countries would follow suit,” WoldeMariam said.

Speaking on Nigeria’s independence celebration and its role in Africa’s aviation sector, he described it as the de facto representative of Africa with the largest population in the continent, stressing that it has a big role to play in the sector.

Source: Independent Nigeria