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International Air Transport Association (IATA) has welcomed the African Union (AU) Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) initiative to open up the continent’s skies and improve intra-African air connectivity, but cautioned that implementation is key.

According to IATA, a main obstacle to the implementation of previous open skies pledges - 1988 Yamoussoukro Declaration and 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision – has been the absence of an underpinning regulatory text.

Rapahel Kuuchi, vice president, Africa, IATA, commented, “We commend the 23 States that have signed up to SAATM. It is an important step forward. But the benefits of a connected continent will only be realised through effective implementation of SAATM—firstly by the countries already committed and also by the remaining 32 AU member nations still to come on board."