Ethiopian Airlines Urges Africa to Implement Single Air Transport Market

The Airline’s CEO Calls for More Liberalization and Integration in African Aviation

Ethiopian Airlines’ CEO, Mesfin Tasew, has called for the continent to accelerate the implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), an initiative that aims to liberalize and integrate the African aviation sector. Mesfin said that the SAATM would enable African airlines to operate freely and competitively across the continent, and to reduce the costs and barriers for travellers.

The SAATM was launched in 2018 by the African Union, and is currently subscribed to by 37 African countries. The SAATM is based on the Yamoussoukro Decision, a treaty that was signed in 1999 by 44 African countries, and that committed them to open their skies and harmonize their policies and regulations. However, the SAATM has not been fully realized, partly due to the reluctance of some African countries to protect their national carriers and markets.

Mesfin said that the SAATM would benefit the African aviation industry, which accounts for only 2% of the global air traffic, despite having 18% of the world’s population. He said that the SAATM would increase the demand and supply of air transport in Africa, which has been growing due to the economic and social development of the continent and the expansion of its middle class. He also said that the SAATM would enhance the connectivity and integration of Africa, which is essential for its trade, tourism, and cooperation.

Ethiopian Airlines
Ethiopian Airlines

The Airline’s CEO Shares His Experience and Vision for African Aviation

Mesfin shared his experience and vision for African aviation at the Financial Times Africa Summit, which was held online on February 28, 2024. The summit brought together leaders and experts from various sectors and fields to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing Africa in the post-pandemic era. Mesfin was one of the speakers at the summit, along with other prominent figures such as Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the director-general of the World Trade Organization, and Akinwumi Adesina, the president of the African Development Bank.

Mesfin said that Ethiopian Airlines, which is the largest and most profitable airline in Africa, has been a pioneer and a champion of the SAATM. He said that the airline has been operating under the SAATM principles since 2011, and that it has established partnerships and joint ventures with several other African airlines, such as ASKY in Togo, Malawi Airlines, and Zambia Airways. He also said that the airline has been expanding its network and fleet, and that it has been investing in its infrastructure and human resources.

Mesfin said that Ethiopian Airlines has also been resilient and innovative amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely affected the global travel and tourism industry. He said that the airline has managed to maintain its operations and revenues, by diversifying its services and products, such as launching a cargo subsidiary, offering charter flights, and partnering with other airlines and travel agencies. He also said that the airline has been proactive and responsible in ensuring the safety and health of its passengers and staff, by implementing strict protocols and measures, such as testing, screening, and sanitizing.

The Airline’s CEO Calls for More Support and Cooperation for African Aviation

Mesfin said that Ethiopian Airlines, as well as other African airlines, need more support and cooperation from the African governments and institutions, as well as the international community, to overcome the challenges and seize the opportunities in the African aviation sector. He said that the African governments and institutions should implement the SAATM and other related initiatives, such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which aims to create a single market for goods and services in Africa. He also said that they should provide more funding and incentives for the African aviation industry, such as reducing taxes, fees, and charges, and facilitating access to finance and technology.

Mesfin also said that the international community should support and cooperate with the African aviation industry, by providing more assistance and guidance, and by respecting the rights and interests of the African countries and airlines. He said that the international community should also recognize and appreciate the contributions and achievements of the African aviation industry, which has been playing a vital role in the economic and social development of Africa and the world.

Mesfin concluded his speech by expressing his optimism and confidence in the future of African aviation, and by inviting the summit participants and the audience to visit and explore the beauty and diversity of Africa, by flying with Ethiopian Airlines or any other African airline.

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