SAATM, solution to air connectivity problem in Africa, says Hailu, Ethiopian Airline boss

MD, Ethiopian Airlines International services, Esayas Woldemariam Hailu

Posted by Sade Williams

As more African states prepare to open their skies to one another based on one of the twelve African Union (AU) agenda flagship projects on improving air connectivity in Africa, the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), Managing director, Ethiopian Airlines International services, Esayas Woldemariam Hailu, has said that the best thing that would ever happen to African aviation is the SAATM declaration, saying only this will solve connectivity issues in the region.

The SAATM was launched at the 30th AU Summit at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on January 29, 2018.

Speaking at the Ethiopian airlines headquarters in Addis Ababa on Tuesday, he said the only way to increase the market share of African airlines in global aviation and a way to dampen the dominance of foreign airlines in African, is to fully implement the SAATM declaration.

While faulting the view that only a few strong airlines would benefit from the regime, Hailu said if fully implemented, all African carriers and State stand to benefit, adding that the continent is now like a beautiful young lady who the whole world prepares to meet.

“So, all of these put together, we have only 20 percent, we need to attack that 80 percent, 80 should be for African airlines, 20 percent should be non-African airlines, because that is our continent, that is our traffic, for more African carriers to come, the traffic which is not in the hands of African airlines is much more, so we have a lot  more to play with, it is not as if we are going to scramble for that 20 percent, we won’t settle for that same 20 percent, we want to contribute more than 3 percent to global air traffic and that is and that is the reason Ethiopian airline going to African countries to help establish regional African national carriers.

“For example, Chadia in Chad is in partnership with Ethiopian airline, we are in talks with Ghana, we have signed MoU and it is progressing, ASKY in Togo is more that 10 years, it is serving essential connectivity in the entire ECOWAS region, more than 20 destinations are getting connected by ASKY, Malawia in Lilongwe is in incorporation with Ethiopian airline, it is established as a national carrier and it is connecting the regions, Mozambique is also there, we are establishing corporation with Zambian airline. We are in support of African airlines either in technical or management. In technical, all technical support is given to RwandAir by Ethiopian airline, management and consultancy is given to Malabo.

“All these efforts is aimed at positing African airlines to grow, thrive and dominate the 80 percent of Africa deserving traffic so that employment, tax, revenue, opportunities, capitals of the continent will not be flown away.

MD, Ethiopian Airlines International services, Esayas Woldemariam Hailu and Organiser, Akwaaba Aftrican Travel Market during the interview session at the airline’s headquarters in Addis Ababa on Tuesday

“Right now, many of the African nations have been giving traffic rights to non-Africans but when fellow African ask for it, they deny them. In some places, people go from one part of Africa to another via Dubai or Doha, why? Even some non-Africans airlines are being given fifth freedom  traffic right to airlift and disembark passengers within Africa, without having to go through their home base but when such request is coming from a fellow African country,  they hesitate or deny, so SAATM is a very good solution for Africa to put its acts together and to thrive. So SAATM is the best thing that can ever happen to Africa, because air traffic connectivity is a fuel for   economy, cultural exchange and regional tourism as well as transactions.

“Africa needs to buy and sell with one another, we need to do business with ourselves instead of building 30, 000 kilometers of train tracks, few kilometers of runway will connect people in the continent, to start with, when we are transacting with each other and creating jobs for each, then we have enough, then we can go to that. So, air transport is a big empowering factor for all economies , people and countries and that is exactly what Ethiopian airlines is trying to do in line with its connection slogan of ‘A new spirit of Africa”, Halilu said.

Hailu added that if all African countries imbibe the spirit of ‘Fly Africa Act’, ‘then there will be business for everybody on the continent in the next ten years’.

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