The East African Business Council has called on the East African Community (EAC) Partner States to fast track opening of air transport services to boost regional trade, tourism and hospitality sectors.
In a statement released by the EABC, the Business Council said that it appreciates the measures by the EAC member states aimed at supporting the resumption of domestic and international flights in the region.
“This is vital for the recovery of the aviation sector in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tanzania resumed international flights on 18th of May 2020, chartered flights in Rwanda restarted on 18th June 2020, Kenya has planned to open domestic air travel on 15th July 2020 and international flights in Kenya and Rwanda are expected to resume on 1st August 2020,” the statement reads.
According to the EABC during the COVID-19 pandemic, EAC Partners States permitted air cargo services and inventively used passenger aircrafts for cargo operations which have facilitated EAC’s exports of fresh produces and mitigated the impact of COVID-19 on the economies.
“The EAC Partner States need to come up with regional coordinated guidelines and measures on the opening of the regional aviation sector to bolster consumer confidence and support the recovery of the sector,” part of the statement from the EABC reads.
The regional business council said that in the opening of the regional air transport services member states should ingenuity consider temporarily granting the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) 5th to 9th Freedom rights to effectively increase capacity, reduce inefficiencies and costs; waive landing fees, excise duty on aviation fuel, navigation, landing, parking and COVID-19 related fees to reduce operating costs; and the reduction of permit and fees for service providers from the EAC region.
“Opening of regional aviation sector will stimulate economic activities not only in the sector but to also in the tourism sector which has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Peter Mathuki the Executive Director of EABC.
This comes as the EAC member states started easing up the lockdown in efforts to control the spread of the virus, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are the EAC member states to have imposed lockdown while Tanzania and Burundi had stepped up measures to curb the spread of Coronavirus.