Travellers across East Africa are set to enjoy a drop in airfares by a quarter after Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia were among the countries that adopted an open skies treaty this week. The treaty guarantees a 25 per cent drop in air fares for 2.4 million travellers who fly within the region.

The African Union launched the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) in a bid to boost connectivity, reduce fares and stimulate economic growth on a continent widely considered the most expensive and inconvenient to fly around.

According to the International Civil Aviation Organisation, a UN agency, Africa accounts for about 15 per cent of the world’s population but only 3 per cent of the world’s aviation trafic.

The open skies treaty will also give the continent’s big four carriers — Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, RwandAir and South African Airlines — unfettered access and multiple destinations to any city in the countries under the arrangement, as part of African Union’s move to improve connectivity and integrate countries.

We have seen 23 member states have pledged their solemn commitment to the Single Air Market, the implementation of which will increase the number of routes, reduce the cost of air travel and contribute to the expansion of intra-African trade and tourism,” AU chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said.

A 2015 study commissioned by the African Civil Aviation Commission and the International Air Transport Association, a trade body of almost 300 airlines, estimated that full liberalisation of the sector among 12 of the biggest economies on the continent would add $1.3bn to their economic output, and generate 155,000 new jobs and fare decreases of up to 35 per cent.