With respect to relations between the Maghreb countries
The Yamoussoukro Decision of November 1999 begins with these words:
“We, African Ministers in charge of civil aviation meeting in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire on 13 and 14 November 1999, (…) hereby adopt this decision (…):
This Decision establishes the arrangement among State Parties for the gradual liberalization of scheduled and non-scheduled intra-Africa air transport services. This Decision has precedence over any multilateral or bilateral agreements on air services between State Parties which are incompatible with this Decision.”
Besides the gradual liberalization of services (the first five freedoms of the air), without limitation in terms of capacity or frequency, the key features of a single market, the Decision also includes a notable addition, i.e. the possibility of states to designate an airline from another state party to the Yamoussoukro Decision.
In 2018, two essential annexes were added: Annex 5 on Regulations on Competition in Air Transport Services within Africa and Annex 6 on Regulations on the Protection of Consumers of Air Transport Services. This is surely proof that a single market cannot be viewed from a liberalization viewpoint alone, and that the convergence or, better still, harmonization, of certain rules is essential to guarantee that it functions properly.
The official launch of the Single African Air Transport Market in January 2018 placed the Yamoussoukro Decision in the context of Agenda 2063 and revived a liberalization process that was initiated 20 years earlier. Thirty-four African states, including Morocco, have already made “solemn commitments” to the SAATM, and 18 states have already signed the Implementation Protocol aimed at ensuring coherence between the Yamoussoukro Decision and their bilateral air service agreements (source: website of the African Civil Aviation Commission).
In the foreword to the 2018 edition of the Yamoussoukro Decision (Single African Air Transport Market – Towards a Single African Sky), Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said that air transport liberalization in Africa would lead to greater connectivity, a “massive reduction in air ticket prices” and growth in intra-African traffic in terms of passengers and freight, which would improve the profitability of African airlines. These remarks are supported in particular by a study by InterVista titled “Transforming Intra-African Air Connectivity: The Economic Benefits of Implementing the Yamoussoukro Decision”.
The effective implementation of liberalization is likely to reveal a broader need for regulatory harmonization. This need should quickly become evident in the field of aviation safety and security, especially when states avail themselves of the option to designate air carriers whose regulatory oversight in these fields is guaranteed by another state.
In addition, the increased flow involves the risk of saturating the airspace and air traffic control bodies. The search for greater efficiency in this area, especially in terms of the economy and environment (e.g. reduction of greenhouse gas emissions), should result in ever stronger cooperation, one of the advanced stages of which could be the establishment of so-called functional airspace blocks (FABs), based on the European Union’s model. These functional airspace blocks are designed to address the fragmentation of airspace and organize airspace according to flows rather than national borders. Such cooperation levels between countries, or between air traffic control services, can be conceived only on the basis of highly or even fully harmonized regulations.
It should be noted that cooperation in the field of air navigation already extends across the Mediterranean, as reflected in the partnerships established between the BLUE MED FAB (the Mediterranean functional airspace block that links Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Malta) and the air navigation service providers of Egypt and Tunisia, which participate as “associated partners”, as well as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which enjoys observer status.