The International Air Transport Association (IATA) wants Nigerian carriers to start enjoying the benefits of liberalization of African skies by flying into more African routes, thereby actualizing the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) launched in January 2018 by African Heads of State.
Ms. Adefunke Adeyemi, Regional Director, Advocacy and Strategic Relations, Africa, IATA, made this call in Lagos, recently at the 14th Akwaaba Africa Travel Market. She says Nigerian carriers have the right to fly into about 40 African countries because Nigeria has existing Bilateral Service Agreements (BASAs) with these countries, but Nigerian carriers are yet to maximize these opportunities.
The IATA Regional Director laments that there is no Nigerian carrier flying into Niger Republic and Chad, among several other Central and Western African countries. She calls on African carriers to improve connectivity in West and Central Africa to change the current status of
being “the least connected part of Africa.”
Overland Airways, a leading Nigerian carrier, recently launched scheduled passenger flights from Lagos to Cotonou, Lome and Niamey.
She adds that there must be routes development before passenger conversion from other modes of transportation to aviation. She notes that Nigerian airlines like other airlines in Africa can have a hub or spoke in any African country whether they are registered in the country or not. She says: “Arik Air once had the offer from the Sierra-Leonean government to operate as their flag carrier. Arik Air would have leverage on that market to other parts of Africa and the world.”
Furthermore, Ms. Adeyemi says: “For cooperation to work, airlines must maintain international standards. Nigerian carriers have some of these certifications particularly where safety is concerned. This places them at a good advantage for continental collaborations with African
airlines as well as airlines anywhere in the world.”