Ethiopian Airlines has revealed that it spearheaded the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) policy so that it would give African airlines the opportunity to dominate African skies.
Speaking during a tour of Ethiopian Airlines facilities at its Addis Ababa corporate headquarters, the acting Chief Commercial Officer, Mr Esayas WoldeMariam, told journalists that African airlines constitute only three per cent of the total aviation market and that 80 per cent of the three per cent is operated by non-African airlines, only 20 per cent is left but that with SAATM, African airlines would dominate the African skies.
‘We are not just working towards SAATM only, we created it. When Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was the head of the African Union Commission, Ethiopian Airlines spearheaded the push to have SAATAM because before, what you call the Yamoussoukro Decision was defunct, so, we needed something modern that could work. Zuma then told us to go and bring along some other airlines, so we brought a few airlines together and we went in. She was convinced of the initiative, afterwards, the African governments discussed and ratified it,’ he said.
‘SAATM gives opportunity to African airlines to dominate African skies. Right now, from Africa to the world and from the world to Africa, our airlines constitute only three per cent of the total aviation market by IATA and 80 per cent of that three per cent is operated by non-African airlines, only 20 per cent is left for us. But with SAATM, we would dominate the African traffic.
‘We would work with each other and not against each other and we would try to connect cultures, people and goods in Africa and that is why Ethiopia started making visas online and visas on arrival for all Africans. This is because many African countries delay or deny visas for fellow African citizens while they give to people who are coming from the northern hemisphere.
Instead of building the 30,000-kilometre railway, a three-kilometre runway for the aircraft would be able to connect in a cheaper way for all people in Africa to buy and sell from each other. Africa is transacting only 10 per cent with each other and 90 per cent overseas and we want that to change so that employment and capital will remain within the African soil. So SAATM is our making and we are working very hard towards its success because that would be the best thing for all African airlines. The African Union Commission for trade and investment is working seriously for its realisation and they are going to push for that so that the rest of the African countries would follow suit,’ WoldeMariam
Speaking on Nigeria’s independence celebration and its role in Africa’s aviation sector, he said: ‘Nigeria is the defacto representative of Africa with the largest population in the continent and it has a big role to play in the sector, that is why we are bringing our flights back to Enugu from the beginning of October. I wish Nigeria the best as it celebrates independence.’