Alex Gitari, the Ag. Managing Director of Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) addresses a gala dinner during the 2019 Routes Africa Conference and Exhibition. The takeaway from the conference was that African countries stand to lose if they deploy protectionist aviation strategies.

Attempts to constrain liberalisation in Africa will wipe more than 50 million passengers off the continent’s forecast market size by 2038, delegates at the Routes Africa Conference have heard.

Rise in protectionist measures could curb the forecasted growth of Africa’s air transport market by about 50 million passengers over the next two decades, according to industry association International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Speaking at Routes Africa 2019 in Mombasa on Monday Raphael Kuuchi, Vice President of Africa at IATA, said that it is estimated that more than 300 million people will be traveling to, from and within Africa by 2038.

Alex Gitari, the Ag. Managing Director at Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) said the growth of aviation market requires strategic planning and long-term investment plans especially in the areas of air transport infrastructure.

“KAA has managed to meet and interact with over 30 Airports and Airlines. These potential new routes and partnerships,” Gitari said as he pledged his support for Pan-Africanism and liberation of African Skies.

The association forecasts that the size of the continent’s market will reach 356 million passengers if current regional and global economic trends continue. However, a pick-up in protectionism could wipe more than 50 million off that total.

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“Africa is forecast to be the second-fastest-growing region in the world over the next two decades, with growth of 4.5 percent per year,” Kuuchi said.

“African airlines are going to add an additional 208 million passengers to the current total of about 140 million.

“However, if the signs we are seeing in markets such as the US and some European countries, where there are attempts to constrain liberalisation, are present here in Africa, then we would lose about 56 million passengers.”

Conversely, if there is an acceleration of growth, driven by policies including the Single African Air Transport Market, the African market in 20 years will be more than 400 million passengers in size.

See Also: Why Global Aviation Industry is Set to Lose Billions

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