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Boost to air connectivity as AFCAC discovers 59 new African routes

The African Civil Aviation Council (AFCAC), yesterday revealed that the agency has discovered 59 new Africa air routes, 13 of which operate under fifth freedom air traffic rights. 

These developments mark significant progress in the implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), the council said in a report yesterday.

Secretary General of AFCAC, Adefunke Adeyemi said Africa’s discovery of 59 new air routes, including 13 fifth freedom routes, marks a positive step towards enhanced connectivity. 

Last year, we discovered that 59 new routes are being operated in Africa. 13 of those 59 routes are fifth freedom routes. This is significant progress. It is not where we need to be, yet it is movement in the right direction, and we will continue to monitor this.”

Fifth freedom air traffic rights refer to the right granted by one country to an airline of another country to carry passengers or cargo from its own country to a second country, and then onward to a third country. 

This essentially allows an airline to operate flights between two foreign countries, with a stopover in its own country.

Adeyemi emphasized the importance of these new Africa air routes in enhancing connectivity across the continent. However, she also stressed that developing new routes alone is insufficient without passengers or cargo to support them. “What good is the development of new routes when people and goods cannot move around?” she questioned.

Consequently, the AFCAC Scribe mentioned that the commission is supporting a robust regulatory framework for SAATM through the Civil Aviation Authorities (CAAs). Additionally, models are underway to promote affordable and accessible travel for more than the current 10% of Africans traveling by air.

Adeyemi also highlighted the need for an improved visa regime across the continent. She stressed that the true potential of new routes can only be realized when people and goods can move freely.