UGANDA (eTN) – The Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency, a body established by the East African Community (EAC), has at last been able to officially open their own premises in Entebbe, signaling a new phase in aviation cooperation in the region. Besides the pomp and glamour, some aviators in the region expressed their disappointment, some of them outright disgust, over continued non-tariff barriers impacting on their ability to freely operate across the entire region.
One senior management staff of a commercial airline suggested to “scrap all bilateral agreements just as soon as possible, which are in place between the EAC member countries and replace it with a new regime of open sky policy” before adding “our aviation bureaucrats need to put into action what our politicians profess to in public, and fast.”
Others continue to take issue with the fragmented licensing regime, which compels airlines to obtain, in a worst case, five separate operating licenses, in techno lingo called AOCs, and demanded that this too be streamlined. Said one seasoned airline staff member: “They need to recognize an AOC, for instance issued in Kenya, also in Uganda or Tanzania or Rwanda or Burundi. Now CASSOA is in their new headquarters, and they [are] already give binding guidelines for licensing of airlines registered in the member states. We need to cut through the red tape now. We need to bring relief in terms of bureaucracy and cost. Right now, say look at 540 Aviation, they have operations in three countries and needed to establish companies, get air service licenses, then get their separate AOCs, [and] install accountable managers. All this should, in the new EAC, be reviewed, and once you have met the standards, once you are given an AOC in one member state, that should be binding for others too.”
Operators of light aircraft, mainly used for regional charters and tourist traffic into the parks, also added comments with one claiming: “Right now the brutal truth is that the public is being deceived. Integration right now is an added layer of bureaucracy. The functions now overseen by CASSOA must be removed from the national regulators; permits and licenses should be granted by CASSOA and then valid across the entire region. We should be allowed to fly tourists into national parks without being treated as invaders. Stop treating us as foreign airlines when we fly across East Africa. We want clearances just as fast as airlines registered in that country would get them, not wait for 24 hours, or 48 hours, or longer. What is the point of our clients wanting to fly when in the end they get there faster by road because we are not given clearance fast enough?”
Upon further probing, one regulatory staff, on condition of anonymity, conceded that there were still problems over integration and cutting red tape and blamed it on one member state in particular, without, however, being drawn into giving the name… regular readers, though, can probably figure that one out themselves.