Great potential in integrated skies

According to the major findings of a Value for Aviation for Africa econometric report commissioned by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Namibia can benefit significantly with an additional 10,600 jobs and US$94.2 million additional GDP per year, if intra-African markets are opened up to permit greater airline transport activity.

The report which was presented to the Minister of Works and Transport, Hon Alpheus !Naruseb on Thursday evening, was undertaken by independent economic consultants, InterVISTAS.
The report includes the findings on 12 countries that were studied namely; Namibia, Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, Tunisia, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria and Ethiopia and suggests that the benefits could be possible if just the countries in the study were to implement the 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision to open Africa’s skies to African airlines, which however has been slow.
At a media briefing on the study of the valuation of Aviation for Namibia, held in Windhoek, IATA’s Vice president for Africa, Raphael Kuuchi said, “This report demonstrates beyond doubt the tremendous potential for Namibia if the shackles on aviations are taken off. But for full benefits to be realised, Namibia should work to encourage all African states to embrace the Yamoussoukro agenda.”
“Employment and economic growth are just the tip of the iceberg. In terms of the benefits of connectivity, aviation plays a major role in helping to fulfil the African Union’s mission of an integrated, prosperous Africa,” he added.
Again the report found that liberalised African air markets would cause airfares to fall between 25% and 37% in the 12 countries under review and this will stimulate an 81% increase in traffic flows between the countries within two to three years.
In terms of passenger trips, Kuuchi said, “For Namibia alone, there will be a 92% increase with movements swelling to 1,107,200 from 577,800 previously recorded. The bulk of this growth would be on the air services linking Namibia with Angola and South Africa.”
Meanwhile, despite all the envisaged benefits Namibia is to reap from the liberalisation of the air market, the national carrier had earlier tried the Windhoek Accra route which failed as it was not financially sustainable. Air Namibia had to absorb heavy financial losses.
Commenting on the Windhoek Accra deal, acting MD and COO of Air Namibia, Rene Gsponer said a lot has happened since then and they have conducted much stronger studies and realised that a single route between Windhoek and Accra is not financially viable. He said they are now looking into a Windhoek Lagos Accra route which can only be achieved via the implementation of the fifth freedom, which is the right for an airline to fly between two foreign countries during flights while the flight originates or ends in one’s own country.
Currently aviation supports 6.9 million jobs and more than US$80 billion in GDP across Africa. The InterVISTAS research demonstrates that additional services generated by liberation between Namibia and the other 11 key markets will provide an extra 155,000 jobs and US$1.3 billion in annual GDP combined for all 12 countries.