The Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) airlines will sign a cooperation agreement on June 18 establishing the ‘Vanilla Alliance’ aimed at improving air services between IOC member states and international connectivity to the region.
The Vanilla Alliance will be made up of Air Austral (Reunion), Air Madagascar, Air Mauritius, Air Seychelles, and the Ministry of Transport of the Union of Comoros (until the appointment of a carrier in that country). The airlines have agreed to “jointly defend their common interests and enhance international connectivity [to, from, and within the] islands while taking care to preserve the attractiveness of passenger fares.”
Air Austral CEO Marie-Joseph Malé, who is also president of the IOC Airline Committee, said that the IOC-led initiative represented “a major turning point for regional air transport.”
In parallel, the civil aviation authorities of the IOC member states are, through the IOC civil aviation committee, exploring the possibility of establishing a shared regulatory framework, as well as strengthening government competency in areas such as training and safety.
The Vanilla Alliance idea stemmed from an international symposium on air transport in the Indian Ocean region hosted by the IOC in May 2013. Following that symposium, the IOC published a report in January last year called ‘Indianocéania’s Wings’ which demonstrated the measurable and sustainable added value of a coordinated approach to air transport.
The Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) is an intergovernmental organization that was created in 1982 at Port Louis, Mauritius and institutionalized in 1984 by the Victoria Agreement in Seychelles. The IOC is composed of five African Indian Ocean nations: Comoros, Réunion (a department of France), Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles. Notwithstanding their different characteristics (Reunion as a French department; Mauritius and Seychelles as Middle-Income Countries whereas Comoros and Madagascar are amongst the Least-Developed Countries), the five islands share geographic proximity, historical and demographic relationships, natural resources and common development issues.
IOC’s principal mission is to strengthen the ties of friendship between the countries and to be a platform of solidarity for the entire population of the African Indian Ocean region. IOC’s mission also includes development, through projects related to sustainability for the region, aimed at protecting the region, improving the living conditions of the populations and preserving the various natural resources that the countries depend on. Being an organisation regrouping only island states, the IOC has usually championed the cause of small island states in regional and international fora.