Pressure piles on Kenya, Tanzania to resolve ‘safe flights list’ row
- On Friday, Kenya added 7 more countries to its list of countries whose passengers will be allowed into the country when international flights resume on August 1.
- Flights from the United States of America (except for California, Florida and Texas; United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Italy will now be allowed into the country.
- Apart from China and Zimbabwe, other countries allowed to operate flights to Kenya are South Korea, Japan, Canada, Ethiopia, Switzerland, Rwanda, Uganda, Namibia, and Morocco.
Kenya and Tanzania have been urged to consider an East African Community (EAC) coordinated approach after the two countries clashed over the ‘safe flights’ list.
The East African Business Council (EABC) said the two nations should prioritize decisions that promote intra-EAC trade and revive the tourism and hospitality sector heavily hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The East African Business Council congratulates Kenya and Rwanda as they resume international flights today, 1st August 2020. Tanzania resumed international flights on the 18th of May 2020. These are important steps towards the recovery of the aviation and tourism sectors, however, the differences emerging in regional air transport services among some partner states are set to adversely affect the rebound of business in the region,” Dr. Peter Mathuki, the EABC Executive Director /Chief Executive Officer said.
According to him, intra EAC trade stood at $5.98 billion (Ksh. 644billion) two years ago but with the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, regional trade is expected to decline by 50 percent this year.
He further cited a report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which indicates that EAC partner states will potentially lose upwards of $5.4 billion (Ksh. 581.6billion) of tourist local spending for the year 2020 under scenarios of protracted closures and restrictions of seaports and airports.
“The impact of COVID-19 has led to a decline in the number of air passengers hence approximately $0.54 billion (Ksh.58billion) revenue loss was projected in Kenya risking 137,965 jobs while $20.4 million (Ksh.2.2billion) base revenues loss, risking 3,000 jobs was projected in Rwanda,” he added.
The EABC boss insisted that e-opening of regional air transport services will integrate the regional logistics value chains for increased exports of fresh produce, regional tourism and enable service providers to tap into the larger EAC market.
He said this is set to bolster business continuity and resilience to sustain livelihoods and jobs as well as.
“The East African Business Council urges, the EAC Partner States to prioritize and fast-track the unconditional re-opening of regional air transport services and agree on an EAC coordinated approach on the opening of the regional aviation sector, in line with the World Health Organisation guidelines and measures,” Dr. Mathuki said.
He also averred that EAC partner states should 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.
His statement comes a day after Tanzania banned Kenya as retaliation for being excluded from the ‘safe flights’ list.
On Friday, Kenya added 7 more countries to its list of countries whose passengers will be allowed into the country when international flights resume on August 1.
Flights from the United States of America (except for California, Florida and Texas; United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Qatar, United Arab Emirates ,Italy will now be allowed into the country.
Apart from China and Zimbabwe, other countries allowed to operate flights to Kenya are South Korea, Japan, Canada, Ethiopia, Switzerland, Rwanda, Uganda, Namibia, and Morocco.
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