THE Country Manager of Air Cote D'Ivoire in Ghana, Micheline Yahot, has called for strong partnerships among African airlines to ensure the success of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
It will also contribute significantly to the growth of the continent’s aviation industry.
She said through partnerships, African airlines could improve connectivity, promote investment, enhance trade and stimulate economic growth to contribute to the prosperity of African nations.
“I am appealing to our African leaders and specifically our regional governments to think integration, Pan-Africanism and protection of intra trade among ourselves by taking advantage of the birth of AfCFTA.
Incentives and priority should be granted to carriers which serve the continent. The African Continental Free Trade area can’t move easily without a vibrant aviation industry. Let’s be one and start from Africa,” she said.
Ms Yahot who made the call at the opening of the airline’s new office and its 10th anniversary in Ghana, in Accra, said, it was important for Africans to build trust in themselves than others.
“We are not against partnership. Air Côte d’Ivoire believes in partnership. That’s why we have more than 300 destinations with the 15 alliances we’ve made with some airlines like Air France and Ethiopian Airlines, and we look forward to partner with Ghanaians,” she added.
She indicated that bringing in more airlines should not be an irreversible challenge for sub-regional carriers to compete unfairly on the pricing model.
Instead, she said the sub-region must regulate fair competition.
“The continent needs us first for its own benefit and its own development. When to the contrary, lack of firm regulations make the rain to fall on another grass where we need water to green our African soil,” the Country Manager said.
A Deputy Minister of Transport, Alhassan Tampuli, said the importance of the aviation industry could not be overemphasized due to how safe and convenient it was.
He said Ghana as the headquarters of the AfCFTA presented an excellent opportunity for the country to take full advantage of the population in West Africa.
Commending Air Cote D'Ivoire for its contribution to the sector over the years, he said “350 million people in West Africa is roughly the total population of the United States so in terms of population, we are comparable to the United States.
That means that the number of airlines and aircraft in the system is way lower than the number we need to be able to serve the population, so we hope players in the industry will be able to bring in more aircraft.
The deputy minister explained that the aviation industry had picked up steadily post COVID, such that the numbers recorded in 2019 had almost been exceeded by millions.
However, he said a lot needed to be done to boost the sector and provide excellent experience for passengers.
“I think that there is a lot more for the industry to take advantage of because the more we tend to fly, the expectations of passengers become more. So we need to give them better services and traveling experience and we, as a government, are ready to support you in every way,” Mr Tampuli said.