Namibia is one of the AU member states which has not yet signed the commitment, despite showing interest in having a unified African air transport market.
Botswana, Mali, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Zimbabwe are among the 23 African countries that have signed the agreement.
Ministry of Works and Transport spokesperson Julius Ngweda explained to Nampa recently that Namibia could not commit to the SAATM agreement until a number of issues are discussed and addressed with the relevant stakeholders in the aviation sector.
These issues include capacity, aviation safety and security, frequencies, tariffs and mechanisms for fair competition.
So far, the ministry held its first consultative meeting on February 15 with the Namibia Civil Aviation Authority, Namibia Central Intelligence Service, Air Namibia and the ministries of defence, safety and security, home affairs and immigration, and public enterprises.
Meanwhile, Air Namibia’s corporate communications, external and public relations officer, Twaku Kayofa said if the government signs the agreement and the airline would participate as it would have easy access to markets it currently does not have access to.
“Namibia is a small market, with only one million worldwide passengers travelling per year, and Air Namibia carries 50 percent of those passengers,” he explained.
Opportunities in other markets are much bigger, and as an established airline, it would use its existing capacity to tap into other markets.
“It will enhance interconnectivity, smooth facilitation of trade and tourism revenue increase,” said Kayofa.
He noted that the more African airlines have to fly to more African countries, the more competition would increase, reducing fares and improved service offerings to travelers.
“Other regions of the world such as the European Union, North America and Latin America have their skies opened for themselves – there is no harm for Africa doing the same,” he added.
Credit: Aviation Africa