What the proposed changes to Civil Aviation law mean

MPs in the Chamber of Deputies’ Standing Committee on Economy and Trade have completed reviewing the law governing the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (RCAA) and it could be tabled back in the lower chamber of Parliament in late January next year for approval.
A RwandAir plane arrives at Kigali International Airport. (File phot)
A RwandAir plane arrives at Kigali International Airport. (File phot)

MPs in the Chamber of Deputies’ Standing Committee on Economy and Trade have completed reviewing the law governing the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (RCAA) and it could be tabled back in the lower chamber of Parliament in late January next year for approval.

The new law seeks to remove direct provision of aviation services from the agency and leave it with the mandate of being a regulator for the services.
Currently, RCAA operates as a regulator, manager of all national airports and provider of air navigation services.

The combination of these activities means that besides regulating the airport operations and Air Navigation Services (ANS), it is involved in commercial activities within and around airports in the country.

That has to change in order to have a sound legal framework for the aviation industry in the country and allow Rwanda to be a regional hub for the industry, officials say.

Emphasising the need to separate the regulator from direct provision of services to clients, the State Minister for Transport, Dr.Alexis Nzahabwanimana, told MPs last week that RCAA is currently in charge of giving people services and suing itself in case it harms their interests.

If the new law is passed, the agency will now be there to ensure that those who provide aviation services do it well in line with the right regulations to protect clients.

“Sometimes the RCAA was both plaintiff and defendant in cases of accidents or any other disasters in the aviation area,” Nzahabwanimana said

In line with making RCAA a regulator instead of a service provider, the government in October last year established a new company to manage the aviation industry activities as a way to simplify the industry operations and make it more vibrant and competitive.

The company is called Aviation, Travel and Logistics Limited (ATL Ltd) and is a holding corporation with its subsidiary companies including the national carrier Rwandair, Airports Company Rwanda (ACR ltd), Rwanda Tours and Events ltd (RTE ltd), Links Logistics Rwanda (LLR ltd), and Akagera Aviation.
It will provide aviation services, including travel, logistics, ground, freight and cargo handling, as well as charter services.

Officials say that the new law governing RCAA will come as a boost to the country’s aviation legal framework in line with the government’s plan to turn Rwanda into a regional aviation hub for tourism, cargo and logistics-related activities.

“There is still a huge gap in our regulatory framework for the aviation industry and we have to move towards filling it,” Nzahabwanimana said.

MP Nura Nikuze suggested that the new law governing RCAA should enable it to be an autonomous body with the right kind of authority needed to seamlessly handle matters of international nature in the aviation industry.

“The RCAA law is often changed to give the agency enough autonomy so it can do its work. We need to emphasise it in this law that it will get enough autonomy that allows it to work well with other international bodies,” she said.

Given the urgent need for the law to be enacted for its likely role in boosting the country’s aviation industry, MPs in the Standing Committee on Economy and Trade told the State Minister for Transport that they will push for it to be scheduled for approval right after legislators come back from New Year holidays.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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