Rwanda will this month host a meeting that will set the pace for aviation companies and governments to review airfare downward.
The four day International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Symposium and aviation training workshop will take place from 22nd to 25th May 2018 in Kigali.
It will bring together more than 300 high-level state and aviation decision makers and technicians.
The symposium, will provide a unique information sharing opportunity, knowledge enriching presentations and panel discussions by internationally acclaimed aviation professionals involved in safety management activities.
“Much as the ticket prices will not be discussed, improving safety measures, open skies and more connectivity to implement the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM); the outcome is expected to contribute towards lowering the costs of traveling,” Barry Kashambo, the Regional Director of Eastern and Southern Africa said in a press conference, Friday.
In January, President Paul Kagame started his leadership as African Union (AU) Chairperson by announcing the launch of a Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).
So far, twenty-three African countries have signed onto the SAATM agreement according to the Yamoussoukro Declaration of 1988- which is intended to drive down airfares by allowing the airlines of signatory countries to freely access each other’s airports.
Rwanda took the lead in this deal followed by only Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa Swaziland, Togo and Zimbabwe; out of the 54 countries of the continent.
Closed air skies cost Africa more than $700 million in 2015, and more than $800 million in 2016, whereas Europe made more profits amounting to $35.6billion in 2016 according to the International air transport Association (IATA) data.
“When our skies are closed it is harder to make air transport safer, more reliable and more affordable. The growth of business will depend on vibrant aviation,” Kagame said at the 2nd Aviation Africa (avaf) Summit in February.
The symposium will provide participants with insights on how to effectively implement a State safety programme and conduct oversight of its service providers’ safety management systems.
It will also promote collaborative efforts between regulatory authorities and service providers and consequently contribute to sustainable future air transportation system in Africa.
This will pave way for the new international safety standards that will be released by ICAO, next year 2019.
Meeting safety standards requires investment and this comes with opportunities of ascertaining ICAO certification which in turn increases aviation traffic, routes and revenues.
“We are being proactive here to prepare African aviation to be compliant to the upcoming safety standards. Stakeholders have a lot of experiences, data and information in safety management but they have not been sharing it. So this is an opportunity to share challenges,” Kashambo said.
Silas Udahemuka, the Director General of Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority said that Rwanda has seen a grown in its aviation industry as a result of implementing safety standards and investing heavily in infrastructure in the last ten years.
“The line between safety and security is very thin and this symposium is coming as at the right time because we (Rwanda) see aviation as one of the key flagship projects and economic enabler. Our intension is to open our airspaces within the safety parameters and we will keep our promise,” Udahemuka said.
For the last ten years, Rwanda has embarked on expanding the aviation industry with the government making renewed commitment to support the sector at all costs.
The government has injected millions into the expansion of Kigali International Airport in Kanombe at a tune of $19 million which was used for landside upgrading, terminal expansion and overhaul on services including easing movement for both the able bodied and People with Disabilities (PWDs).
In October last year Rwanda embarked on construction of the $818m Bugesera Airport after it was clear that flight and human traffic at KIA was increasing rapidly.
Phase I of the airport will cost $418 million, scheduled for completion by December 2018. The contractor will deliver the facility with a capacity to receive 1.7 million passengers every year.
Upon completion of this phase, extension works will be undertaken, to upgrade the capacity to 4.5 million passengers annually.