UGANDA (eTN) – East African legislators during their sitting in Bujumbura, Burundi, recently endorsed the new aviation law under which CASSOA (Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency) was formed and is now operating. Aviation sources from across the region, however, except from one country notorious for their protective attitude, have demanded that the East African Community (EAC) now immediately embark on removing non-tariff barriers and move towards one integrated regulatory regime.
Among the demands were calls to remove national regulators and incorporate their staff into a regional regulatory body, saving millions of dollars in the process by removing the duplicity or multiplicity of regulatory administration expenses across the region.
“When we have obtained an Air Service License and attained our Air Operator Certificate by one of the regional regulators, the others should immediately and fully recognize this body of licenses. Look at 540 Aviation, for instance, they are forced to have a company in each EAC member state to operate smoothly because of duplicated requirements – that is not right. Neither is it right we from Uganda should have to pay fees for landing or be subject to getting clearances like a foreign airline for instance from South Africa, when we are in fact licensed within a member state. That level of blatant domestic protection measures must end immediately now if CASSOA is to succeed on a region wide basis,” said a source.
These sentiments have been expressed before but have fallen on deaf ears until now. Domestic and regional legislative bodies and suggestions like the ones made above have often been rejected by national regulators as “not feasible,” while they defend their existence and fiefdoms at the expense of integration in the aviation sector across the region. One regulator’s staff called the response to proposals to charge one common fee for overflights for regional member airlines and one higher fee for foreign airlines crossing the East African airspace as “foolish,” claiming that “we will lose our revenue base for overflight charges if each country is to give up charging to a regional body” without addressing the proposal that a common East African regulatory body would still charge for overflights and navigation fees based on flights in the region and receive payments from the airlines.