The Regional Director, of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) West and Central Africa, Mam Jallow, has said the Single Africa Air Transportation Market (SAATM) will not yield the desired benefits unless deliberate effort is made to reduce the charges.
SAATM was inaugurated by Heads of States of the African Union in January.
Jallow made this statement on Tuesday at the ongoing 59th Airports Council International (ACI) Africa Conference in Lagos.
The conference, organised by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), has the theme “Business Transformation for Sustainable Development of African Airports.’’
He said, “SAATM is meant to liberalise the sector, but it has been found that if the cost of travel is not reduced, the continent might not benefit from such liberalisation of its airspace.
“So, they are now looking at ways to reduce charges so that passengers can afford to travel around the continent easily.”
He noted that excessive and discriminatory charges by some African countries was hindering the development of aviation in Africa.
Jallow, said the ICAO was responsible for setting standards and recommended practices for international civil aviation throughout the world.
The ICAO, Jallow explained, had principles concerning taxes and charges in aviation derived from the Chicago Convention of 1954, but these were unfortunately not being complied with by some African governments.
He said, “Taxes are levies imposed on aviation to increase government revenue. They are not necessarily related to aviation and they are not cost-based.
“In terms of charges, we talk about charges levied by airports or aviation service providers for the purpose of recovering the cost of providing their facilities and services.
“The principles are that when these charges are established, they should be non-discriminatory. They should be transparent, cost-related and in consultations with users represented by different bodies.”
Also speaking, Regional Director, Africa – Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security (APCS), International Air Transport Association (IATA), Sidy Gueye, noted that high taxation and charges were impacting negatively on the development of the airports.
Gueye said the solution was for the authorities and the host airports to comply with the ICAO rules and principles in taxes and charges.
He said, “Airports and airlines should work together in sensitising the authorities to ensure cost-related charges. In doing so, we are going to work with ACI to see how we can achieve this.
“The first area in this line of action is for the airports to find ways of improving their non-aeronautical revenues.”
Gueye said the SAATM would enable more travellers to move across Africa, adding that this development of transportation would also help airports to generate more revenues.
He, therefore, urged African governments to set up the enabling environment and legislation to attract investments to the sector.
According to him, this will help in addressing the challenges of upgrading their infrastructure, adding much-needed capacity to cope with traffic growth and improving their service quality to the passengers.