Trade and tourism between Rwanda and the Central Africa Republic (CAR) could increase, thanks to the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) signed between the two countries yesterday.
The agreement means the national carrier, RwandAir, can fly to the CAR without any limitation (granted the fifth freedom).
It also allows the two countries to establish and strengthen bilateral cooperation in the air transport industry while facilitating the ease of doing business between Rwanda and CAR, Alexis Nzahabwanimana, the state minister for transport, said.
“The agreement provides us a business opportunity to strengthen our commercial aviation and make it more profitable for our people to trade and share experiences without any limitations,” Nzahabwanimana said during the signing ceremony in Kigali.
The deal also provides opportunities for both countries’ airlines to grow in a more liberalised global environment, the minister added.
The main objective of the agreement, according to Arnaud Djoubaye Abazene, the minister for transport and civil aviation in Central Africa Republic, is to provide a framework that encourages competition and the development of new and expanded international air services between the two countries.
This will help boost tourism and strengthen bilateral relationships between the two countries, he added.
“By enabling our airlines to market themselves in a manner that is unhindered, we will be able to fast-track economic growth and help facilitate both countries’ international trade objectives,” Djoubaye Abazene, said.
The agreement stipulates that both parties must recognise air transportation is a direct contributor to a dynamic economy and is a leading trade and tourism facilitator.
And that market forces should determine the price, quality, frequency and range of air services options and not bilateral restrictions.
According to the deal, both countries national carriers must have the opportunity to compete in international markets on a reasonably level playing field.
Jean Paul Nyirubutama, the RwandAir acting chief executive, said the agreement presents a huge opportunity for the national carrier to start operating Kigali- Bangui route.
“We are currently studying the market and obviously considering flying to Bangui as part of our expansion strategy very soon,” Nyirubutama said.
He added that liberalising the airspace between the two countries will translate into increased air service levels between two states consequently reducing flight charges.
Recently, the Northern Corridor member states (Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan) agreed to liberalise their airspace, allowing local airlines the fifth freedom.
The initiative is expected to significantly improve the regional aviation sector with airlines like Kenya Airways and RwandAir operating under the fifth freedom arrangement.
Last year, Rwanda and Equatorial Guinea signed a general cooperation agreement in different areas, including air transport to facilitate trade.
The country is also yet to sign open sky policy agreements with Malawi and Tanzania.