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Malawi Airlines welcomes move by African Union to liberalize air market

Malawi Airlines, through its publicist, Joseph Josiah, has said that the biggest winners of the African Union’s (AU) move to liberalize the air transport markets are the customers.

The AU is set to liberalize and unite the African air transport markets by the end of the month. This can ease flight connections between member states.

This would also allow carriers from other countries to operate in other members’ countries without complications.

“Our customers will be the biggest winners as this will offer them more direct connectivity than is the case now,” said Josiah.

“This means, for example, Malawi Airlines will be able to uplift passengers from point A and drop them at point B in the same country. To the airline, perhaps the only benefit is that the Saatm [Single African Air Transport Market] offers us a rare chance to participate in other markets,” he added.

Josiah has also urged governments to take a closer look at other trade barriers such as tariffs, taxes and the issue of free-visa travel to help ease the implementation of this landmark initiative.

Ministry of Transport and Public Works Spokesperson, James Chakwera, described the shift as a good move as it would give the air passengers more choices. But he added there is an urgent need for proper institutions to properly and religiously regulate the market.

The Government recently expressed its apprehensions regarding the initiative, saying it would create an abuse by richer countries.

Chakwera explained that the market in Africa is not huge compared to European Union markets where liberalization of markets has functioned well.

“In Africa, we can easily count the number of airlines that seem to be doing well. If we open a market, for instance, like Lilongwe-Lusaka, the ones likely to come there would be those airlines doing well but those in teething stages such as Malawian Airlines would also want to take the share of the same market,” Chakwera argued.

SAATM was adopted at the 24th session of the AU assembly that was held in January 2015 in Ethiopia.

It is geared at fast-tracking the attaining of the primary goals of the AU Agenda 2063, which calls for an integrated, people-centered, prosperous, peaceful and stable Africa.

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