There are increasing calls for African leaders and stakeholders in the aviation industry to intensify efforts to drive down the cost of air transport on the African continent.
Experts have argued that Africa’s economic development needs to be supported by connectivity, it is on the back of this that African leaders have initiated steps such as the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement and the Single African Air Transport Market to help reduce the barriers to trade and movement. However, air connectivity remains a challenge which according to industry players needs to be addressed.
CEO of travel and tour agency, moon touch travel Limited, Radia Adama Saani, for instance, explained," Most people connect from one African country to the other by the road not because they prefer to travel by road but because flight fares are high. Most airlines complain of low patronage but the issue isn’t the lack of passengers. If prices are reduced, we will witness a high level of passenger turn out with the regional routes".
A typical example of the impact of low fares on passenger numbers Madam Saani identified as the increase in demand for air transport was seen in the improvement of passenger numbers on domestic flight following the removal of the 17.5% taxes on tickets of domestic airlines.
She said, “Imagine domestic flight tickets within Ghana cost over 1,000. Everyone will opt to travel from Accra to Kumasi/Tamale by road. But the reduction of aviation tax by the government in a bid to boost domestic air travel has reduced prices so much that almost every traveller can afford tickets and there is even traffic in the sale of tickets now. Most of the airlines get fully booked.”
As the calls grow for a liberalized travel on the continent, aviation experts also advocate for visa-free access as well as expediting the Single African Air Transport Market to improve connectivity on the continent.