The Kenyan aviation sector has apparently placed an injunction on the new regulations, which were developed in recent years. While sections of the industry appear to have no issues with the new regulations, mainly the scheduled airlines, the non-scheduled and charter operators engaged in safari flying do have major objections to the new regulations.
The Kenya Association of Air Operators executive director Eutychus Waithaka said: “[The regulations are] fundamentally flawed in their current state and many operators will be affected if they are gazetted without exceptions.”
He pointed out that once the new regulations are in force, flights to unmanned upcountry airfields and small airstrips will be all but impossible, which would impact greatly on the ability to offer countrywide comprehensive air services.
Aviation authorities have been obstinate to a degree to listen to the private sector and employ some common sense, a rare commodity in those circles, often hiding behind obscure International Civil Aviation Organization regulations for which exemptions are possible, in particular in countries where much of the traffic is operated on VFR and below certain flight levels.
Both communications as well as navigations aids are also not in line with the more developed countries, preventing the provision of weather data and strip conditions to pilots prior to taking off for those “unmanned” airstrips in parks and elsewhere. This is one of the prohibitive measures the new regulations demand and no consideration was given so far to the justified objections of the affected air operators.
Similar objections were also raised in Uganda and Tanzania, with one or two of the more outspoken Ugandan operators calling the regulators “useless” – in reflection not entirely justified however, as this correspondent can attest, having been part of the group developing the new regulations.
It is also noteworthy that verbal commitments made by the regulators to the private sector over dispute resolution have not taken root as yet, causing the friction between regulators and the aviators to deepen if not addressed soon.
Meanwhile East African Community authorities and member states continue to decry the high cost of air travel without addressing the exorbitant regulatory cost and fees levied on tickets, where the cost of the plain airfare can easily double to meet the regulatory add-ons. Member states have also placed non-tariff barriers on the aviation sector by demanding unreasonable duplications of licenses and operating permits and restricting airlines from one country to freely operate into any airfields or aerodromes in another member state or allow cabotage operations within a member state other than the one where the airline is registered and licensed.