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Ethiopian Airlines eyes African aviation liberalisation in 2015

ANTWERP, Belgium Nov 20 (Reuters) – Ethiopian Airlines hopes a decision to open up intra-African aviation routes will be fully implemented in 2015, the airline’s chief executive said on Thursday.

Many African states adopted the Yamoussoukro Decision in 1999 to open up intra-African aviation routes but so far the decision has not been implemented by governments, meaning air travel between countries in Africa largely remains restricted.

“The hubs that we see today in South Africa, Kenya, and Abuja are not developing as well as they should because inter-Africa traffic is still restricted,” Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, told the CAPA World Aviation Summit in Antwerp.

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He said he hoped a meeting between heads of state in January 2015 would deliver progress.

“Ethiopian will of course be taking advantage of that but the biggest beneficiary will be Fastjet,” he said, referring to the low-cost airline that has plans to create Africa’s first pan-continental airline.

Gebremariam said this and other problems, including heavy taxation and poor infrastructure, meant African carriers had not developed as fast as they should to take advantage of predicted market growth.

Airlines body IATA says eight of the 10 fastest growing markets in terms of percentage growth in passenger demand over the next five years will be in Africa.

Gebremariam said non-African carriers now accounted for 80 percent of travel between Africa and the rest of the world, up from 40 percent in the 1980s. (Reporting by Victoria Bryan, editing by David Evans)

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