THERE are signs that East Africa airline passengers' flow will increase given discovery of lucrative business of oil and gas particularly in the southern part of Tanzania which is attracting many foreign investors.
Also airport expansions going on among the member states are a pulling and pushing catalyst for passengers' increment.
For examples Tanzania and Kenya are implementing multibillion projects in their terminals, both named, after the names of their founding fathers, Julius Nyerere and Jomo Kenyatta.
At the Julius Nyerere International Airport, JNIA, implementation of terminal 3 project costing Tsh 518 billion (euro 235) has started and the overall goal of the project is to increase passenger flow from 1.2 million per annum to 7.2 million. Eng. Suleimani Saidi, the Director of Tanzania Airport Authority the supervisor of the project, was quoted saying the project would be implemented in two phases.
The first phase will be construction of a terminal lounge and the second will be construction of a passenger lounge. "The project is implemented by a loan from HSBC Bank of England under guarantee from the Netherlands government and another loan from CRDB Bank under the Tanzania government guarantee.
Upon completion, JNIA will be able to serve 7.2 million passengers annually," Eng. Suleiman pointed out. In his message as TAA Director, he says; "If you ask me what I see happening in the next 5 to 10 years in our institution I would say I see the Tanzania Airport Authority (TAA) having international airports in all cities in Tanzania. That is the direction I envision for TAA."
He further says: "I also see all regional airports in border regions being upgraded to Code 4E aerodromes and accommodating all types of aircraft in the market. This may seem ambitious but we must dream big. Currently most of our regional airports close their operations by 5pm before it gets dark."
The TAA boss also says: "I would like to see regional airports accommodating aircraft that carry between 70- 100 passengers and managing night movement so that our main customer airlines can clock the required flying time to get good returns for their investment."
On the reverse side, the counterpart Kenya is also implementing a terminal 4 project at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, JKIA. According to President Uhuru Kenyatta the new terminal which covers 178,000 square meters plus 50 international and 10 domestic checkin- points upon its completion will be able to serve 20 million passengers per annum.
"On completion the airport will be able to handle 20 million passengers yearly and become a premier regional hub in the East Africa region and prolong its usefulness and I am happy with the progress made one year after the fire destroyed the arrival terminal," said President Uhuru who was in the company of Vice President William Rutto when he inspected the new terminal.
While airport expansion efforts are at peak, the East Africa airline business' equilibrium has recently been shook due to removal of certificates of about 5 flights in Uganda. No one can assertively say suspension of such flights has no impact to East Africa airline business.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Uganda revoked operation certificates of 5 carriers; Transafrik, Asante aviation Ltd, Ndege Juu, Uganda air cargo and Uganda air. According to the authority, the confiscation of their certificates was due to failure to meet standards for operations-the premise established after CAA conducted thorough policies and procedures audit as is demanded by International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO.
Management teams of the suspended air flights were seen fighting to recertify their Air Operators Certificate (AOCs) but according to CAA recertification goes up 90 days. "The recertification process is supposed to be conducted within 90 days and will involve examining equipment, human resource capacity and documentation," a spokesperson was quoted as saying.
The CAA move has affected many routes that were served by the suspended flights. Some of the routes are; Entebbe-Nairobi and Entebbe- Juba routes. In revamping the situation, the Uganda government granted licence to Rwanda Air to operate the Entebbe-Juba route and the Entebbe-Nairobi route handed to Ethiopia Airlines.
The CAA action shows how the Authority of Uganda understands the English men anecdote "in matter of style swim with the current; in matters of principle stand like a rock." The CAA move is happening in the wake where the world is still pondering on the whereabouts of Malaysia plane MH 370.
The incident has puzzled international community but up to now despite of heavy search with all modern facilities still MH 370 remain unanswered puzzle.
The above should be an eye opener to all aviation regulators and operators in East Africa region to ensure adherence of set regulations. Safety and security issues should be cross checked intensively. Let aviation operators not be driven by profit making ideologies alone.