Free access for intra-African carriers still lacking
More than 300 participants attended the 47th General Assembly of African Airlines Association (AFRAA), held in Brazzaville, Congo, late last year to discuss strategies to promote the implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision, which enshrines free access for air carriers on intra-African connections.
Even though it was adopted by 44 countries in November 1999, to date only 11 African countries have committed to implementing it effectively.
In total, 35 airlines attended the event which was chaired by Fatima Beyina-Moussa, CEO of ECAir, Equatorial Congo Airlines, the national airline of Congo.
At the beginning of the discussion, the leaders of the AFRAA member airlines received valuable support from the Congolese President, Denis Sassou N’Guesso: “One of the great merits of your association is the awareness that unity is strength and that in your industry salvation lies in the need for solidarity, in sharing essential resources and in vital synergy. Your association pursues ambitions and goals that are in perfect harmony with the African Union,” declared the Congolese Head of State.
The active participation of Denis Sassou N’Guesso at the 47th General Assembly of AFRAA is highly symbolic. The Republic of Congo is committed to making air transport one of the major pillars of its economic diversification strategy.
In recent years, the Congo has provided advanced infrastructure in this area. Significant investment has been made to build or upgrade nine airports. Three of these, including Maya-Maya Airport, which boasts ultramodern architecture, are world-class.
In particular, the country has launched an airline, ECAir, which, in the space of just four years, has become the benchmark for passenger air transport in Central Africa.
For her part, Beyina-Moussa, said: “At ECAir, we opted to negotiate with our peers and were able to conclude inter-airline agreements with TAC, Asky, Ethiopian, South African Airways, Air Algérie and agreed to operate the Brazzaville- Beirut route in collaboration with Trans Air Congo.
“I am also pleased to announce that Kenya Airways and ECAir have decided to collaborate closely in the near future. I would like to thank my colleague, Mr Mbuvi Ngunze, CEO of Kenya Airways,” she said.
Meanwhile, Edmund Makona, CEO of Air Zimbabwe, succeeds Fatima Beyina-Moussa as head of AFRAA. Air Zimbabwe will host the 48th General Assembly of AFRAA from 20 to 22 November, 2016, in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.