Never shy of controversy, the last one having been sweeping allegations over the EU’s aviation black list targeting African airlines to protect their own – made days before another crash of a banned Congolese airline cost yet more lives – has AFRAA last week in Nairobi taken aim at Gulf based airlines but not before once again calling the EU aviation blacklist ‘not helpful’ to improve aviation safety in Africa.
Justifiably, to a point, was the question asked how African carriers face traffic right restrictions and uplift limitations whereas companies like Emirates or Qatar Airways get around such non tariff barriers with apparently great ease.
Figures submitted to the media on the occasion of Embraer’s Africa Workshop in Nairobi; show that African airlines only uplift 40 percent of traffic while 60 percent, on routes to Europe as much as 61 percent was carried by foreign airlines with no roots on the continent.
Citing also an example of staff poaching, when AFRAA named an Abu Dhabi based aircraft maintenance organization to have recruited as many as 17 staff from Ethiopian Airlines, the organization demanded of African governments to get better equipped to deal with the complex issues of traffic rights by fully adopting the Yamoussoukro Agreement, which in fact demands that the continent opens air routes for African airlines, not make it more difficult for them to fly cross Africa routes while giving foreign carriers a competitive advantage. The Yamoussoukro Agreement, signed under the auspices of the African Union in 1999 was to achieve that within two years but little if anything significant has happened since then, prompting AFRAA to now work more closely with countries which have shown willingness to embrace ‘open skies’ for African airlines while continuing to name and shame other countries promoting protectionism and work against liberalization.