Goldstar Air Launches Afrik Allianz, Explores African Union Backing

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Goldstar
Goldstar

Goldstar Air, a wholly owned Ghanaian airline, is about to launch an airline alliance called Afrik Allianz.

The airline also seeks the endorsement of the African Union (AU) to expand routes, share resources, and establish a seamless travel experience for international passengers who will get access to multiple destinations and more convenient airway connections.

Goldstar Air has notified the AU through its Chairman of what the airline wishes to achieve.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of Goldstar Air, Eric Bannerman, Afrik Allianz is designed to facilitate intra-regional trade and regional integration through the movement of goods, services, and people across Africa and beyond. With over 121 airports within Africa and connections to other continents, the alliance aims to foster multimodal transportation and connectivity, as Airports Council International (ACI) World forecasts passenger traffic in Africa to reach 261 million in 2025.

Following air service liberalization in the United States and the European Union in the late 20th century, African policymakers also began to move towards deregulating the continent’s air transport. Pressure to liberalize also emerged from domestic carriers, which wanted better access to new markets, as well as the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

Several initiatives were announced from the 1980s onwards, most notably the Yamoussoukro Declaration in 1988 and the Abuja Treaty in 1994. This culminated in the signing of the Yamoussoukro Decision in 1999, establishing principles through which deregulation and pro-competition policies could be implemented in the aviation sector.

In a conference in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast, held over November 13–14, 1999, representatives of several nations met to negotiate the further deregulation of air services across Africa. The conference was organized in the wake of the 11th Conference of African Ministers Responsible for Transport and Communications, held in Cairo in November 1997. It recommended a meeting of ministers responsible for civil aviation in their respective countries to find ways of implementing the Yamoussoukro Declaration.

A previous meeting in Mauritius in September 1994 also called for the Yamoussoukro Declaration to be implemented at a faster pace. The conference in Yamoussoukro concluded with the adoption of the Yamoussoukro Decision, which aims to gradually liberalize scheduled and non-scheduled inter-African air transport as defined in its Scope of Application.

The Yamoussoukro Decision is a treaty adopted by most members of the African Union (AU) that establishes a framework for the liberalization (OPEN SKIES) of air transport services between African countries and fair competition between airlines. The decision was signed by 44 African states in 1999, except Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Gabon, Madagascar, Mauritania, Morocco, Somalia, and South Africa, which became binding in 2002.

The treaty grants first, second, third, fourth, and fifth freedom transit rights between all its signatories, granting airlines based in member states greater freedoms in each other’s airspaces. It also seeks to eliminate restrictions on the ownership of airlines as well as capacity and frequency limits on routes between signatory states. The practical implementation of the policies has faced several setbacks and has not been completed by all African Union members.

In 2018, the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) was launched to fully implement the Yamoussoukro Decision, granting member states greater freedom in each other’s airspace. First freedom of the air is the right or privilege, in respect of scheduled international air services, granted by one State to another State to fly across its territory without landing. Second freedom of the air is granted by one State to another State to land in its territory for non-traffic purposes. Third freedom of the air is granted by one State to another State to put down, in the territory of the first State, traffic coming from the home State of the carrier. Fourth freedom of the air is granted by one State to another State to take on, in the territory of the first State, traffic destined for the home State of the carrier, and Fifth freedom of the air is granted by one State to another State to put down and to take on, in the territory of the first State, traffic coming from or destined to a third state.
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) characterizes all “freedoms” beyond the Fifth as “so-called” because only the first five “freedoms” have been officially recognized as such by international treaty.

Many countries and organizations have been critical of the agreement, arguing that it will hurt smaller airlines and allow already large carriers to dominate. Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), an association of Nigerian airlines, denounced the Single African Air Transport Market and lobbied the Nigerian government to avoid implementing the Single Market, advocating instead for the formation of regional airlines before further air liberalization. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni also opined in 2018 that a few airlines will dominate, which is not good.

Eric Bannerman emphasized that Afrik Allianz members may enter into other forms of partnership, including code-sharing agreements or joint ventures with other airlines, regardless they belong to our alliance. Member carriers can expand their networks without investing in new aircraft; instead, they offer new destinations and longer routes to their passengers by picking up and connecting existing partner flights and will ensure high-quality services and security standards. Simultaneously, it will maintain a high degree of financial independence and preserve brand identity.

To optimize operational efficiency and reduce costs, Afrik Allianz members will collaborate in resource sharing, including lounges, terminal space, ground handling services, common marketing programs, maintenance bases, and an IT system, which will reduce overall costs. The collaborative effort aims to ensure a consistent level of service while maintaining financial independence and brand identity for member carriers. This will be an opportunity for member countries to get involved and make it a reality to sustain easy movements within the African continent.

Honorable appreciation to the Chairman, Barrister Allen Onyema, and the entire staff of Nigerian airline, Air Peace, for showing gross interest in and participating in our maiden meeting to be part of Afrik Allianz. This marks the beginning of a milestone journey for the relationship with Goldstar Air and the rest of Africa. The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ghanaian airliner Goldstar Air, Eric Bannerman, along with the entire staff, would also like to seize this opportunity to congratulate the Chairman of Air Peace, who led the crew of the Nigerian airline on their historic maiden flight to London. Goldstar Air takes immense pride in your remarkable achievement.

Goldstar Air will initially be flying from Kumasi International Airport to Rome, Madrid, Hamburg, London, Dusseldorf, Milan, and from Accra Kotoka International Airport to Baltimore-Washington, Dubai, Lagos, Toronto, Monrovia, Conakry, Abidjan, Guangzhou, Dakar, Banjul, Rhode Island, London, Freetown, and more destinations will follow as soon as Afrik Allianz commences.

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