Tuesday, August 20, 2013

■ RWANDA: Burundi, Rwanda sign Open Skies agreement in line with EAC protocol.

Rwanda and Burundi have signed an Open Skies Bilateral Air Services Agreement with for provision for carriers from both countries to have unlimited frequencies to each other's airspace. The move is in line with the East African Community's (EAC) efforts to liberalize its airspace through the elimination, between member states, of all the economic restrictions in the aviation sub sector related to capacity, frequencies, city pairs, cabotage, and designation of airlines.

Kigali International Airport
Rwanda's New Times reports that Alexis Nzahabwanimana, the State Minister for Transport, signed the agreement on Rwanda's behalf noting that the agreement would help foster bilateral cooperation between the two neighbours. Deogratias Rurimuzu, the Burundian Minister for Transport and Public Works, said that the agreement would deal with problems the two countries have been experiencing owing to the fact that they are land locked.

John Mirenge, the maverick CEO of RwandAir (WB), said that with unlimited frequencies to air space, the airline is now set maximise on its profits.
"Accessing air space with no limitations means more business for the airlines and we believe this will take us further to other areas of cooperation."
At present, traffic between the two countries is totally skewed in Rwanda's favour with Rwandair operating twice daily flights to Bujumbura. Air Burundi (8Y), despite launching a new website and planning  a June relaunch, has yet to resume operations.

This is the fourth BASA Rwanda has signed regarding an Open Sky policy after South Sudan, Lesotho and Swaziland. 

In 2006, the 11th Meeting of the EAC Council of Ministers approved amendments to the existing BASAs between member states meant to align the BASAs with the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) provisions on capacity and frequency restrictions, being the first step towards full implementation of the YD in the Region. The Council also constituted the EAC Air Transport Sub Committee for implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision. However, despite the EAC's move towards implementing the YD, which in itself compels all signatories to liberalize their airspace to each other, Rwanda has yet to sign similar Open Sky agreements with other EAC members namely Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.
Some Partner States with small and weaker airlines are concerned that full liberalization may lead to the disappearance of their airlines as a result of anti-competitive behaviour such as abuse of dominant position by the bigger airlines,” said the EAC's Principal Aviation Officer Engineer Ladislaus Matindi.
The Burundian Embassy in Uganda recently announced plans to boost cooperation with Air Uganda (U7) to promote investment between the two countries by offering tickets at subsidized rates to investors willing to travel to Burundi and identify partners and opportunities.

Thanks to RwandanFlyer