Aviation experts from the Northern Corridor countries have converged in Kigali to discuss a concrete legal framework as the region prepares to fully liberalise the airspace among partner states.
The two-day meeting has attracted civil aviation experts from Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan to prepare a workplan and budget for the implementation and management of the Northern Corridor airspace, accordning to Tony Barigye, the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (RCAA) communication manager.
“They are also expected to prepare a memorandum of understanding on search and rescue, as well as aircraft accident investigation,” Barigye told Business Times in a telephone interview yesterday.
“This meeting is yet another step to the liberalisation of the airspace among the Northern Corridor states. It will also help deepen the EAC integration process.”
It comes on the backdrop of agreements that have been signed between states to relinquish ‘Fifth freedom rights’ as one of the ways of liberalising the regional airspace,” he added.
Last year, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan signed an agreement establishing a legal framework paving way for negotiations that will see local airlines attain ‘Fifth freedom rights” on the Juba-Nairobi, Nairobi-Juba routes.
Under the agreement, local airlines, including RwandAir, have the right to carry passengers from one country to another and from that country to a third country.
Monique Mukaruliza, Rwanda’s co-ordinator for the Northern Corridor integration projects, said the initiatives will enhance competition in the aviation industry and, ultimately, make air transport in the region affordable.
Alex Buterere, the RwandAir senior manager in charge of grounds operations, said harmonising airspace among partner states could help enhance safety and security assurances across the Northern Corridor airspace.
Rwanda is currently heading the project that is expected to establish a robust legal and institutional framework, and financially viable and technically feasible system towards accelerating the integration of airspace infrastructure development in the Comesa region.