AFRAA Highlights Challenges in SAATM Compliance, Air Traffic Freedom Rights Approvals


Secretary General Abdérahmane Berthé of AFRAA criticizes signatories’ lack of SAATM compliance and hypocrisy regarding Air Traffic Freedom Rights approvals.

Berthé, speaking at the MRO Africa Conference in Addis Ababa, emphasized the disparity between signing agreements and actual implementation. He noted that of the 38 SAATM signatories, only 10 may have complied with regulations, exposing the inadequacy of current advocacy efforts.

Secretary General highlighted how airlines manipulate their governments to obstruct SAATM, depriving themselves of potential benefits. 

He emphasized the principle of reciprocity in air transport, where denying air traffic freedom rights contradicts the essence of liberalization agreements. 

Berthé cited instances where national carriers enjoy fifth freedom traffic rights in other regions while opposing similar privileges for African airlines.  “Many Eastern Africans are operating with fifth freedom traffic rights. And you want at the same time to be protected? So, that is really important.” Berthé pointed out.

He says AFRAA is actively engaging with the African Union to address limitations to SAATM implementation. 

Berthé outlined two key initiatives: establishing a dispute settlement mechanism at the AU level and engaging high-level political leaders. The dispute settlement mechanism aims to hold states accountable for denying traffic rights, providing recourse through legal action and sanctions. Additionally, Berthé stressed the importance of direct engagement with political leaders to overcome existing challenges.

Air traffic freedoms, including the Fifth Freedom, are fundamental to international air transport agreements. The Fifth Freedom allows airlines to carry passengers/cargo between two foreign countries while making a stop in their own country. These freedoms shape the global aviation industry and underpin the objectives of initiatives like SAATM.

Berthé’s remarks underscore the urgent need for effective measures to ensure SAATM compliance and unlock the potential of air transport in Africa. 



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