During the 1944 Chicago convention, 9 freedoms of the skies were established and agreed upon. These allowed access to the skies, markets and landing rights to foreign owned carriers. However these freedoms were strict and characterised with high taxes and regulations which was a blockade to the growth of air transport. The growth of the industry in the United States saw the US government advocate for an open skies policy in the industry and in 1978, the US had started bilateral negotiations with nations that were willing to liberalise and open their skies for example Great Britain.
Open entry for carriers on all routes is one of the key benefits of an Open Skies policy. African Aviation industry has for long been highly regulated using taxes and documentation requirements with the main aim of protecting the domestic carriers that aren’t operating. Insecurity in the region has led to restrictions on flying to some countries and access to their skies for example Libya. These skies have been declared no fly zones such that commercial airlines are not granted access. Insecurity for that matter is another hindrance to the success and effectiveness of the open skies policy. It creates barriers where they were broken and even where they didn’t exist.
Beucracy in the African governments’ decision making system is yet another strong blockade. These beucratic tendencies come about as a result of greed and need for bribes by government officials. These government officials demand money from interested airlines that would like to operate flights to their countries. And Africa is a continent where road transport is highly used due to accessibility, ignorance of air travel and affordability. Therefore the air transport market is still very lean which is not very good news for new players that are trying to establish themselves in the market.
However on the other side,the nation benefits with unrestricted capacity and frequencies by airlines. These increase passenger numbers both Origin and Destination (O&D) and in a long run domestic flights. For example Kenya has greatly benefited from open skies policy and this can be seen with its growth of regional air travel. Cities like Mombasa, Eldoret, Kisumu and Malinda have all developed their airports. These act as secondary and feeder airports to Jomo Kenyatta International and Wilson Airport Nairobi. Open skies policy has given Kenya’s national carrier opportunity to expand to other countries across the world. Kenya Airlines has now developed a good code share with both local and international carriers i.e. Jambo Jet on domestic flights and KLM-Air France in Europe, Jet Airways in India and Delta in America. This has grown Kenya Airlines network and position in the industry. Open skies brings positive change to the industry and this affects other related sectors for example tourism, industrial manufacturing. Governments, airlines, airports, general public and other stakeholders in the industry all stand to gain economically.
During the Aviation Africa summit 2017 slated for the 22nd-23rd Feb at Kigali Rwanda, speakers will exhaustively discuss the hindrances and benefits of open skies to all stakeholders including the general public. Various other issues that are failing the growth of Aviation in the region will also be discussed and action plans will be developed to improve the industry in the continent with an aim of capacity building. For further details about the conference please check www.aviationafrica.aero or Alison Weller of Aviation Africa Event +971561162453 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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