The governments of Rwanda and Burundi yesterday signed an aviation agreement that will see airlines from the two countries enjoy unlimited frequencies to air space. This is the fourth agreement Rwanda has signed regarding open sky policy after South Sudan, Lesotho and Swaziland.
Alexis Nzahabwanimana, the State Minister for Transport said that the agreement will not only facilitate trade between the two countries, but also improve bilateral cooperation. This agreement also aims at updating and improving an existing agreement that has been in place for the past 40 years.
"We believe this is the right time where movement of people, goods and services between the two countries must be made easier if we are to benefit from regional integration," said the minister. "Unlike in the past where our airlines were limited to flying three times a week, now they will be able to fly as many times as they wish which is healthy for our economic growth."
Currently, RwandAir, the national carrier operates two flights a day to the Burundian capital, Bujumbura.
The minister added that the agreement is in line with the implementation of the different protocols under the East African Community integration process. Specifically, the EAC common market protocol requires free movement of people, goods and services and to fast track this, Rwanda has already implemented a one-stop-border in a bid to facilitate regional trade.
"After the one-stop-border post, time has now come where two countries must sort out the air space bottlenecks." Deogratias Rurimuzu, the Burundian Minister for Transport and Public Works said that the agreement would deal with problems the two countries have been experiencing owing to the fact that they are land locked.
"This unlocks much potential each country has to offer to the other especially in areas of bilateral trade and tourism. "For me there is no Burundi and no Rwanda given the fact that we have a lot in common. There is no reason why the two countries should restrict themselves on certain issues.
Burundi looks forward to use this agreement to improve on its aviation industry and make it more competitive. John Mirenge CEO RwandAir said that with unlimited frequencies to air space, the airline is now set maximise on its profits. "Accessing air space with no limitations means more business for the airlines and we believe this will take us further to other areas of cooperation". Government is also yet to sign open sky policy agreements with Malawi, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.