Inside Politics

EAC states urged to fast-track airspace liberalisation 

Thursday, August 5th, 2021 00:00 |
Kenya Airways plane.

AVIATION: The private sector has urged East African Community (EAC) partner states to fast-track the liberalisation of air transport services, a move that would lower flight costs and spur its growth.

East African Business Council (EABC), the regional apex body of the private sector associations and corporates said air-transport liberalisation will lower flight costs by 9 per cent, and see a 41 per cent increase in flight frequencies.

“Liberalisation of air services in the region is set to increase traffic volumes, improve connectivity and lower air transport fares.

This will in turn increase trade and tourism, inward investment and productivity growth,” said EABC chief executive John Kalisa.

Kalisa’s revelations are contained in the council’s latest policy paper on the Costs and Benefits of “Open Skies” in the East African Community (EAC).

Despite the commitments by the partner States to liberalise access of Africa’s air transport market through the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) the regional domestic air transport sector remains protected, reducing accessibility and increasing air transport cost at the expense of potential users.

Other raft of measures the EABC is proposing to open up the airspace include waiving landing fees, excise duty on aviation fuel, navigation, landing, parking and Covid-19-related fees, moves, Kalisa said will ultimately lead to reduction in operating costs.

Encourage imports

“To encourage imports by air, EAC Partner States should waive all import duties and Value Added Tax (VAT) by air during the Covid crisis,” Kalisa added.

The policy paper also recommends that partner States provide subsidies for the aviation industry in the form of direct financial support, loan guarantees, corporate bonds and tax reliefs.

Kalisa said member States should also grant each other the free exercise of the rights on scheduled passenger, and non-scheduled passenger and cargo flights performed by an Eligible Airline to and from their respective territories .

“This will open up access to capital and avail investment in infrastructure upgrades and capacity expansion for regional airports,” he said.

Covid-19 has seen a drop in the tourism sector. In 2020, EAC received about 2.16 million international tourists compared to about 7.05 million in 2019.

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