African aviation bodies have signed a tripartite agreement to seek the full liberalisation of the African skies and immediately open up negotiations with the European Union on a common airspace, deemed necessary for economic takeoff.
The Nairobi-based African Airlines Association (AFRAA), the Dakar-based African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) and the Casablanca-based Airports Council International, Africa Chapter, signed the tripartite agreement to improve air transport.
The agreement was signed in Nairobi late Wednesday to pave way for efforts to make African civil aviation authorities more autonomous and to champion improvements within the airports in Africa to enable them meet growing demand for technology compliance.
AFRAA Secretary-General Christian Folly-Kossi said the three regional organisations, whose respective Presidents are all based in Nairobi, agreed to form an executive body to spearhead reform measures aimed at bolstering air transport in Africa, still in its infancy.
“We consider air transport a major pillar of transport in Africa. We need to develop air transport as a major pillar of Africa’s economic growth,” Folly-Kossi said.
Kenya’s Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) Director-General Chris Kuto is the AFCAC President, while the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) Managing Director, George Muhoho, is the President of the Airports Council International-Africa Chapter.
The agreement, which involves all the three main players in the aviation industry, the aircraft operators, the airport owners and the air safety regulators, will spearhead efforts to upgrade African airports to be able to electronically process the passenger details.
The new trend in the aviation industry is for airports to have the tools that would identify travelers using genetic material, known as biometrics, in future as a first step towards ending the long queues that travelers have to face to have personal details verified.
AFCAC is an institution of the African Union (AU) founded to offer regulatory services to the various African countries on issues dealing with air safety, security and also oversee Africa’s efforts to achieve an air-accident-free status.
AFRAA, on the other hand, was founded by the defunct Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1968 to act as a professional association of the African airlines.
The three-party deal to improve air transport in Africa is targeting the increase in trade between Africa, Asia and the Far East, covering China.
Its first initiative is to create transport hubs for African citizens to connect flights easily using the continental airspace.
Speaking after signing the deal in Nairobi, the AFRAA chief said the pact would enhance Africa’s efforts to improve air transport services, noting that Africa risked losing the revenue from its own nationals to foreign airlines.
He said the signing of the agreement would usher in a new era in air transportation, with the main focus on the implementation of the Yamoussoukro declaration on open skies.
This policy aims at removing restrictions against African airlines in Africa.
In the pact, the AFCAC has been saddled with forming an executing agency to ensure the full implementation of the Yamoussoukro declaration.