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Single Africa air market skewed against Nigeria – Onyema

The Chairman of Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema, has said that the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) as presently implemented is skewed against Nigeria.…

The Chairman of Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema, has said that the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) as presently implemented is skewed against Nigeria.

He noted that while the SAATM, a project of the African Union (AU) to liberalise air transport in Africa in line with the Yamoussoukro Decision was a step in the right direction, aviation charges in Africa were too prohibitive.

He spoke in Lagos on Thursday at the 48th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) with the theme: “Unlocking Africa’s Economic Potential: Travel and Tourism as Catalyst for Intra-Africa Business, Investment and Trade”.

He spoke just as stakeholders made a case for a visa-free status for Africa to encourage travels within the continent.

Onyema explained that while most of the continent’s airlines were having easy access to Nigerian cities and airports, the same could not be said of Nigerian airlines planning to expand to other African nations, saying different minefields were created for Nigerian carriers.

Onyema, therefore, canvassed a level-playing field for all stakeholders for SAATM to evolve as expected.

He said, “A situation whereby you are charged about $12,000 as charges as an airline by some African airlines is discriminatory. How do you want to succeed in such an environment? This happened in Africa and it was against Air Peace.

“SAATM will work for everybody if we collaborate and remove the lopsidedness in it. Nobody will unlock the potential for Africa unless Africans, and we must be deliberate about this.”

Rwandan Ambassador to Nigeria, Christophe Bazivamo, advocated a visa-free regime to interact seamlessly, expand tourism and economic development.

Bazivamo specifically mentioned Rwanda as one of the countries on the continent which had opened its borders freely to all travellers, saying this increased tourists and travellers into Rwanda by 48 per cent as of 2023.

He said: “Rwanda is a testimony of an open border because it is visa-free. Whenever you want to travel within Africa, just buy your tickets and board the aircraft.”

Outgoing President of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Mrs Susan Akporiaye, reminisced on her tenure, which she described as challenging, saying with the support of everyone she was able to weather the storm.

 

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