Georges Chung is the Senior Economic Advisor to the new Prime Minster of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth. He outlines one of the administration’s top priorities – the management and expansion of the Asia-Africa Air Corridor, an historic agreement that aims to plug the connectivity gap between the world’s two most populous continents.
Could you please give us an overview of the Air Corridor?
We believe that this Air Corridor will modify for the better the destiny of the world’s two most populous continents: Africa and Asia. What we intend to do with the corridor is to prove the effectiveness and the efficiency with which these two continents can meet. And if you measure the route between Asia to the east coast of the African continent (Malawi, Tanzania, Mozambique, as examples) going through Mauritius to these countries is the shortest route in terms of travel time. Asia and Africa have not been able to connect effectively mainly because of connectivity issues. We are now plugging that void, and Mauritius can be a strong agent in improving how Asia and Africa connect
What have been the benefits so far that you have seen with the launch of the Air Corridor?
We have tested the effectiveness of the corridor in only four locations so far: Singapore, Mauritius, Madagascar and Reunion Island, but there are as many as 300 locations outside that we want to tap to form the corridor. This includes the whole southern part of the African continent, such as the South African Development Community, which includes 15 member states, and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, which has 19 member states. In the first year of its operation, the Air Corridor has brought an increase of nearly 20,000 passengers. Thanks to that encouraging result, Air Mauritius is increasing non-stop weekly flights to Singapore from three to four by July 2017, with plans to add another flight by 2018.
Could you give me more details on how the Air Corridor will expand connectivity to China?
There are two agreements in place: First, the agreement between Singapore Airlines and Air Mauritius, and then the agreement that has been signed between Changi Airport and Air Mauritius. Under the agreement Air Mauritius and Singapore Airlines will manage the Singapore to Mauritius route together, allowing passengers to be carried via a code-sharing policy to any of 200 locations, such as Beijing, Hong Kong, or Chengdu. Within ten or fifteen year’s time, the corridor will consist on hundreds of thousands of passengers travelling to and from these two regions.