ADDIS ABABA, The Mozambican government sees the Single African Aviation Market, launched on Sunday by the African Union (AU) at the 30 African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa as a window of opportunity, says Deputy Transport Minister Manuela Rebelo.

Rebelo, who is in the Mozambican delegation to the nsummit led by President Filipe Nyusi, told the media here Monday that libealization of the intra-African aviation market should be seen as an attempt to better serve the users of air transport.

It’s not a question of competition. We all win,” she claimed.

The intention of the libralization move, which takes immediate effect, is to boost connectivity, reduce fares and stimulate economic growth. AU officials hope the liberalized African aviation market will eventually replicate the European Common Aviation Area, which allows airlines from European Union member states to fly between any member state.

A 2015 study commissioned by the African Civil Aviation Commission and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimated that full liberalization of the sector among 12 of the biggest African economies on the continent would add 1.3 billion US dollars to their economic output, and generate 155,000 new jobs and fare decreases of up to 35 per cent.

Liberalization of civil aviation has long been preached but not much practised. The Yamassoukro Declaration of 1988 saw 44 African states agree to start liberalization, but few took any serious measures in that direction.

The new Single Aviation Market got off to a good start, with 23 AU members, including Mozambique, signing up immediately. The signatories include the homes of the three largest airlines on the continent — Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa.

For smaller airlines such as Mozambique Airlines (LAM), the challenges are immense, since LAM’s relatively small fleet of planes makes it difficult to increase the number of destinations it can offer.

Rebelo dismissed the fear that in a liberalized market, large airlines will swallow up smaller ones, but she admitted the need for airlines to work together since in air transport it’s not possible to survive on your own.

There must be coalitions, there must be partnerships, there must be synergies so that we can reach other markets,” she stressed.