Kenya sits on applications from EAC airlines

"It is really a very simple issue. We have agreements in the East African Community about aviation. Fifth freedom rights and even cabotage rights are embedded and enshrined in these agreements.

Kenya sits on applications from EAC airlines

“It is really a very simple issue. We have agreements in the East African Community about aviation. Fifth freedom rights and even cabotage rights are embedded and enshrined in these agreements. Any member country sitting on applications, like Kenya has been doing for a while now, are as a matter of fact not only obstructing but violating the letter and the spirit of the East African Community. They cannot just always take, the have to give, too, or should remember that choices have consequences,” said a senior aviation source from Kigali on condition of anonymity when asked to comment on the ongoing delays in having fifth freedom rights granted by Uganda to airlines incorporated in the East Africa Community reciprocated.

The Kenyan regulators have of late come under intense pressure to finally grant Fastjet traffic rights on the route from Dar es Salaam to Nairobi after the application has reportedly been kept on the bottom of the pile for several months after the Tanzanian CAA had designated Fastjet as one of their airlines for the route. Fastjet would only confirm that they are awaiting a response from Nairobi but would not be drawn into the debate, understandably as Fastjet PLC, through their Kenyan airline franchise, is equally awaiting approvals for the granting of an Air Service License, something several Kenyan airlines appear to have vehemently objected to, prompting the KCAA to defer the application until the next hearing in early 2015.

One aviator from Tanzania in fact suggested that retaliatory measures from the TCAA could now only be a short time away, as the Tanzanian regulators, in the past often accused themselves to be difficult in allowing airlines from EAC member states to fly into the country beyond the main gateway airports, now finally have an opportunity to point fingers at their Kenyan counterparts.

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For Uganda though it is a slightly different case, as the UCAA has been seeking to attract airlines from the region to fly not only more often into Entebbe but have even granted fifth freedom traffic rights from Entebbe to destinations beyond.

RwandAir already operates scheduled daily flights from Entebbe to Juba and back and has reportedly also been granted fifth freedom rights from Entebbe to Nairobi and Dar es Salaam but been unable to commence flights to Nairobi in the absence of approvals from the KCAA.(Kenya Civil Aviation Authority)

Fastjet from Tanzania, already flying four times a week from Dar es Salaam to Entebbe , was equally – as reported here two weeks ago – granted fifth freedom rights by the UCAA to fly from Entebbe to Nairobi, Juba, Kigali and Johannesburg and while no feedback has been received about three of these destinations has it been ascertained that the KCAA appears most reluctant, as in the case of RwandAir too, to accept this airline to fly to Nairobi.

Apparently have Ugandan regulators been trying to defuse the situation, saying these approvals will take time, but the fact remains that the Kenyan regulators in particular have gained notoriety in keeping competition out of their skies irrespective of the fact that the affected airlines actually are registered and licensed in an East African Community member state. The million Dollar question now is, for how long can the KCAA hold out before one of the airlines takes their case to the East African Court of Justice or else have the matter raised in the forthcoming EAC Summit at the end of the month to have the political oversight direct their bureaucrats to act swiftly or else face the wrath not only of the neighbouring countries but also from their own masters.

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