African economies need to grow, stabilise and become more sustainable before the continent can take the step towards an open-skies policy, according to Jan de Vegt, COO of Kenya Airways.

Addressing delegates on the first day of the Air Cargo Africa 2017 conference at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg recently, de Vegt said Africa was still in its baby shoes when it came to liberalisation.

“Aviation on the continent is expensive, and while trade policies are becoming more inclusive, a lot of economies need to grow to stimulate the kind of public- and private-sector investment that is needed to facilitate open skies,” he said.

“For example, just getting fuel to an airport at the moment is more expensive than the global average because of transport infrastructural challenges. Until those kinds of challenges are addressed and the industry in general is more competitive, we cannot look at open skies.”

He added that policy and regulatory harmonisation between states was also needed.