Home » Aviation: Non-implementation of Open Skies and code-share among East African carriers making inter-city flying in the region costly and tiring

Aviation: Non-implementation of Open Skies and code-share among East African carriers making inter-city flying in the region costly and tiring

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The non-implementation of the open skies policy by African governments and the lack of code-share among East African carriers is making inter-city flying in the region costly and tiring.

According to an article written by Luke Anami published on theeastafrican.co.ke travelling between two cities in the East African region has become more expensive and time consuming.

He said last month I had to travel to Arusha for a high level East African Community meeting, and with a four-times a day frequency between Nairobi and Arusha by Kenya Airways, I planned on taking this 55-minute flight for hassle-free trip.

Until I learned that all flights were fully booked.
My options were either Air Tanzania from Nairobi to Arusha via its Dar es Salaam hub or Ethiopian Airlines through Addis Ababa. But the last thing I expected was that the trip would take more than seven hours.

It was bad enough the flight was not direct, but it turned out to be too long, costly and exhausting too. The cheapest return ticket on the Nairobi-Dar route is more than $237 and the cheapest one-way direct flight between Dar and Arusha costs $75, and a return ticket $120.

East Africa is not short of airlines, but the fact that they don’t code-share is frustrating to travellers who fail to get direct flights between regional cities. Ideally flights between cities here are short haul, the longest being slightly under two hours. Arusha, the headquarters of the East African Community and Tanzania’s safari city, is 250Km from Nairobi, a distance of less than three hour’s drive away and only 55 minutes away by air.

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I opted for Air Tanzania. And being a 7.40am flight, I had to wake up at 4am to make it to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by 5am, with all check-in procedures put into consideration.

We took off in Nairobi and as we cruised south, we were served breakfast with, ironically, spectacular views of Mt Kilimanjaro, our destination, and which we soon left behind as we headed east.

The one hour and 30 minutes’ flight was smooth until we reached a rainy Dar es Salaam skies, and had to remain in the air for 30 minutes as the pilot waited for clearance to land.

And just like that, we landed in Dar es Salaam at almost 10am, two hours after leaving Nairobi. We immediately transferred to a Tanzania Air for the final dash to Arusha. The flight took under 55 minutes from the Julius Nyerere International Airport to the Kilimanjaro International Airport, landing at 12.30pm.

Then we had to endure a one-hour drive to the hotel in Arusha city.

It is really not the most economical way of travelling in the region financially or time-wise.

And these were some of the issues discussed at the meeting in Arusha.

Rwanda’s Minister for EAC Affairs Prof Manasseh Nshuti said this was one sign that the Common Market is not working, saying; “the cost of an air ticket between Rwanda and Tanzania is almost equivalent to the cost of airtime between the two countries because while Rwanda is in One Network Area, Tanzania is yet to join thereby affecting the cost of communication in the region.”

The region, and the rest of Africa is still mulling over an open skies policy which will ease access to national airports by African and foreign airlines to increase direct inter-country flights.

Fred Ochieng Obbo, a Ugandan legal expert in aviation and a former airline executive said EAC needs to get over the political and economic hurdles to the open skies policy and that “our leaders will one day see the sense to consolidate all the airlines into one.”

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