Uganda is looking to join the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) in a bid to reduce the cost of air travel. This was revealed during a stakeholders’ meeting in Kampala, where representatives from the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority and the Ugandan Ministry of Works and Transport convened to discuss the draft National Civil Aviation Policy and modalities for the reduction of airfares and tariffs alongside representatives from the African Civil Aviation Commission.
Ms Olive Birungi Lumonya, UCAA Deputy Director-General, explained that signing the SAATM would reduce the cost of air transport and that the proposed draft policy by the African Civil Aviation Commission is designed to encourage states to embrace the single transport movement. She also revealed that the Covid-19 pandemic had affected UCAA’s revenue, with the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war impacting the recovery of the aviation sector.
Despite these challenges, the aviation industry is slowly recovering, with UCAA having recovered up to 89 percent of its 2019 traffic as of March 2023. The State Minister for Transport, Mr Fred Byamukama, emphasized the need to cut fares for domestic and regional flights, citing that travel is currently expensive, making it more economical for someone using their personal car to save some money.
The move to join the SAATM comes as Africa looks to deepen its integration and boost economic growth through the free movement of people, goods, and services. By signing the agreement, Uganda will join other African countries in a bid to create a single aviation market that allows airlines to fly freely across the continent, leading to reduced costs for travelers.
The SAATM was initiated in 2018 by African Union member states, with the aim of creating a unified air transport market in Africa. The policy seeks to remove regulatory barriers and create a level playing field for African airlines.
The aviation sector plays a crucial role in Africa’s economic development, with the potential to create jobs and spur economic growth. By reducing air travel costs, the SAATM will make it easier for people to travel within the continent, boosting tourism and trade, and contributing to the growth of African economies.