ECOWAS proposes regional air transport market

Transport Ministers as well as chief executives of airlines in West Africa have made wide-ranging proposals for the improvement of the operating environment for airlines in the region, to enhance their viability and competitiveness, and maximize their contributions to regional integration.

ECOWAS said the proposals are the outcomes of a high-level meeting held in Accra and are towards the creation of a common regional air transport market through the adoption of appropriate legal texts.

“The meeting agreed that the texts should provide a common regulatory regime in West Africa, in air transport regulations, approval of carriers, tariffs, liability in accidents, competition and exemption, aviation safety, compensation for denied boarding, ground handling and slot allocation, among others,” said the regional body in a statement October 27, 2011.

In the six-point resolution, the statement said the ministers also made specific proposals to address aviation safety, security and environmental issues facing the sector through the delineation of responsibilities between Member States and the ECOWAS Commission. “This is to enable the region to comply with the International Civil Aviation Organisation standards in these areas.”

In order to mitigate the challenges of the lack of transport infrastructure, investment and heavy operational costs, lack of co-operation among regional airlines and issues of frequencies and traffic rights, the meeting called for collaboration between the ECOWAS Commission, Member States and airlines in the region to ensure the full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision on the liberalization of the air transport market in Africa, it adds.

ECOWAS indicated that these resolutions will also assist the region to address the issues of regulation of competition rules, training of aviation personnel, unification of airspace, certification of airports, reduction of taxes and other charges towards reducing the airlines’ operational costs as well as the introduction of incentives for those airlines operating non-profitable routes in the region.

By Ekow Quandzie

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