What if Africa and the world became more integrated instead of more fragmented?
This proposition would mean that governments and businesses ignore protectionism to create an environment that allows collaboration between businesses and across borders. Amadeus has called this scenario “Dali” in its latest study ‘What If?’ because it is innovative, futuristic, and a little surreal.
In Africa, an environment of collaboration across borders where protectionism is ignored would mean the realisation of Open Skies.
Open Skies have been on the cards in Africa since 1999, when 44 African nations vowed to fully liberalise air transport in the Yamoussoukro Declaration (YD). The target was set for 2002. We’re now in 2017 and Open Skies is far from becoming a reality.
What would Open Skies mean for the traveller and the travel agent?
For the moment, it is considerably more expensive per kilometre to fly within Africa than it is to fly overseas from South Africa. According to Corporate Traveller statistics, a return trip from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg to Gaborone in Botswana costs as much as R4,41 per kilometre. A trip from Johannesburg to New York? This will only cost traveller R0,52 per kilometre.
A report released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) explains that if Africa implemented Open Skies, airfares would fall between 25% and 37%. This in turn would lead to considerable traffic growth within the region as well as increased employment, and increased socio-economic benefits to the continent.
However, Open Skies are only one possibility brought about by the Dali scenario.
What if we saw the world become more favourable towards sharing data?
Would this lead to a future where more personal information is taken from more data points?
Travel could become faster, cheaper and safer for travellers. People would enjoy fewer security controls at borders. They would have real-time information on unforeseen events such as flight delays. Driverless cars would await at their destination to navigate unknown cities. The Dali scenario would see collaboration across the industry, allowing travel providers to become more efficient.
For all these gains and advances in technology, it is not a ‘win-win’ scenario. Traditional and online travel agencies would lose business as people rely more on digital assistants for travel. But this would not happen overnight and online travel agencies would defend their relevance by buying data.
Travel agents will have an opportunity to promote their services on social media. People are already getting their news, exchanging information, organising their social lives, and shopping all from one platform. This one-stop shop is convenient for users and is likely to develop further.
Global Distribution Systems would also play a role in this scenario. “When you have a cornerstone technology that has already been built, that aggregates so many providers,” says Decius Valmorbida, Vice President Europe, Middle East and Africa at Amadeus, “you do not destroy it. You build upon it.” There is opportunity to provide aggregated data to new, specialised search engines. Amadeus is already providing this function to the travel search engine Kayak.
For more about this scenario and the others identified in the report – download What if? Imagining the future of the travel industry.