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Zimbabwe's open skies policy gets continental recognition

by Staff reporter
29 Nov 2023 at 05:03hrs | Views
ZIMBABWE's open skies policy has won the country an award from the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) during the recently held 24th Yamoussoukro Decision Day (YD) anniversary in Abuja, Nigeria.

Zimbabwe's Open Skies Policy, which enhances the country's attractiveness to potential investment and tourism, continues to gain momentum.

Airlines meeting international technical and safety standards can obtain landing rights on payment of laid down fees.

There are now 19 airlines flying into Zimbabwe.

Government's adoption of the open skies policy and improved business environment anchored on Zimbabwe's Open for Business policy has seen confidence to invest in the country growing.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development said the award conferred on the country was a testament to the fact that Zimbabwe has come of age in the aviation sector as it continues to welcome investment and growth of the sector in pursuit of the national policy thrust enunciated by President Mnangagwa, that of engagement and re-engagement and opening Zimbabwe for business.

Between November 13 and 16, Zimbabwe joined the African civil aviation community in celebrating the 24th Anniversary of the Yamoussoukro Decision Day, which was set aside by Heads of State and Government of the African Union to push for improved air transport services in Africa.

The day was set aside by the 29th Assembly of the Heads of States and Government of the AU Agenda 2063 project for the liberalisation of scheduled and non-scheduled air transport services within Africa and with an overall aim of removing restrictions on traffic rights, capacity and frequency between city airports.

The YD was endorsed by African Heads of State and went into effect in July 2000 in Lomé, Togo.

"The Yamoussoukro Decision was adopted by members of the African Union (AU), establishing to improve the continent's connectivity and integration through the liberalisation of scheduled and non-scheduled air transport services in Africa, and the removal of all restrictions on traffic rights, capacity, tariffs and frequency between city-pairs for all African airlines.

"Zimbabwe is a signatory to this decision and is therefore committed to the liberalisation of the civil aviation regime in Africa. The YD gave birth to the Single African Air Transport Market "Open Skies Policy", a flagship project of the African Union Agenda 2063, aimed at creating a single unified air transport market in Africa to advance the liberalisation of civil aviation in Africa and act as an impetus to foster the continent's connectivity and economic integration agenda," the Ministry said.

Due to the slow implementation of the decision and the little successes achieved by member States, the launch of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) as the first flagship project of the AU's Agenda 2063 on January 28, 2018, became a watershed for the full liberalisation of African air transport.

The ministry said Zimbabwe is among the 37 member States who have subscribed to the Solemn Commitment to unconditionally implement the YD and SAATM; this cluster represents over 80 percent of the existing aviation market in Africa.

"At the 24th YD Anniversary held in Abuja, Nigeria, from 13 to 16 November 2023, Zimbabwe was recognised by way of an award, as one of the countries to have signed the Memorandum of Implementation of SAATM which was signed by the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Honourable Felix Tapiwa Mhona on the sidelines of the 41st Session of ICAO Assembly in October 2022 in Montreal, Canada.

"The signing signified the country's commitment to the implementation of the flagship project hence the recognition by way of this Trophy. The 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision therefore became binding in 2022.

"The benefits of the SAATM are manifesting themselves in the form of increased number of airlines and frequencies into Zimbabwe," the Ministry said.

Measures which the country has undertaken in fulfilment of YD and SAATM include the granting of foreign operator permits to several African airlines for direct flights into the three international airports – Robert Gabriel Mugabe, Victoria Falls and Joshua M Nkomo International Airports.

This year alone has seen another large batch of new airlines including Zimbabwe in their operations: FlySafair, Eswatini Air, Zambia Airways and CEMAIR while Ethiopian Airlines is operating direct flights to Victoria Falls and J M Nkomo international airports and in other instances frequencies have been increased for existing airlines.

Currently there are 19 airlines flying into Zimbabwe which has seen the country being more globally connected thereby improving opportunities for business, tourism, cultural exchanges and increased access to new global markets for Zimbabwean firms.

Source - The Herald