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IATA chief urges African governments to cut fuel tax, open skies

By Reuters | June 23rd 2015

African governments must remove taxes on aviation fuel to create jobs, help carriers grow and make air travel more affordable, the chief executive of the industry's worldwide trade body said on Tuesday.

Tony Tyler, of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said governments should also speed up a plan, known as the Yamoussoukro Decision, to open their airspace to local carriers by 2017. The plan was signed in 1999 by 44 states.

"At the moment Africa punches below its weight in terms of connectivity with the rest of the world through African airlines," he said on the sidelines of an aviation conference in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

When implemented, Yamoussoukro could create 155,000 jobs and fly five million extra passengers a year around Africa, a recent IATA study of potential benefits in 12 major nations found, Tyler said.

He said the cost of fuel, which comprises nearly 30 percent of an airline's costs, is more than 20 percent higher in Africa than elsewhere, and called on authorities to cancel aviation fuel taxes in line with the rest of the world.

"The opportunity here is for governments to cancel these unnecessary and penalising taxes," Tyler told a news conference, noting the benefits of increased air travel would outweigh the short-term loss of fuel tax revenue for states.

Mbuvi Ngunze, the chief executive of Kenya Airways , said the taxes varied from one country to another and that poor energy transport infrastructure also drove up costs.

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