By Manqoba Makhubu
THE country is currently working on implementing the Yamoussoukro Decision to enable full liberalisation of air transport services in terms of access, capacity, frequency, and tariffs.
Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA) Director General Solomon Dube said this would result in increased trade, both regional and intercontinental which is critical for economic development.
However, he said the agreement was yet to be properly ratified as it has to first go through the required regulatory enacting processes.
Africa head of states and governments endorsed the Yamoussoukro Decision in 2000, and it became fully binding in 2002.
Specifically, the Decision calls for full liberalisation of intra-African air transport services in terms of access, capacity, frequency, and tariffs.
Free exercise of first, second, third, fourth and fifth freedom rights for passenger and freight air services by eligible airlines, liberalised tariffs and fair competition, and compliance with established International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards and recommended practices.
“The agreement also promotes open skies which is a major advantage as we have currently signed agreements with other states on basis of open skies, which basically means that our agreements allows their airlines to fly between any point in the country and that will be the same case with the country’s airlines,” he said.
Dube said this was essential to link the country with the African and global economy.
“It is also important in supporting the industry value chain, because increased traffic will consequently result in increased activity in other services like transport, hotels, and other support services,” he said.
SWACAA’s immediate objective is to ensure that Swaziland complies with all laid down industry standards. The Authority is also busy attracting air transport business into Swaziland for tourism, trade and investment.
Meanwhile, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has called upon member states governments’ to fast-track the process of establishing legal, regulatory and institutional regional frameworks to guide the open skies initiative in the region to boost connectivity and trade across the region.
Speaking during a recent held two-day COMESA consultative meeting on navigation, surveillance, air traffic management legal and regulatory framework, Director for Infrastructure and Logistics Dr Abu Sufian Dafalla encouraged governments to form partnerships, saying bilateral engagements were the primary tools that would help improve the continent’s aviation industry.
“Enabling aircraft navigate seamless will boost airline business on the continent. We therefore need to setup the base on cross-border airspace navigations to facilitate movement and trade,” he said.
COMESA has even put in place a steering committee to establish how members can harmonise their airspace to ease air travel, cut costs and hence boost economic growth in the region.
Dafalla also called on governments to invest heavily in aviation infrastructure and skills development to support the industry.
Part of the country’s aviation infrastructure development was the King Mswati III International Airport which has been operating since September 2014.
During his 2016/17 budget speech Minister of Finance Martin Dlamini said efforts would be now made to ensure that the airport is well marketed to attract more passengers and airlines.
He said the planned revival of Royal Swaziland Airways Corporation as a fully-fledged airline is also expected to give impetus to the viability and success of the Airport.