Mauritius signed a Memorandum of Understanding and initialled a Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) with the Kingdom of Swaziland on 19 April 2017 at the Prime Minister's Office in Port Louis. The signatories for the Mauritian side was the Solicitor-General, Mr D. K. Dabee, and for the Swazi side the Director General of Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority, Mr Solomon Dube.
The Agreement provides for multiple designation of airlines by each country and seven weekly frequencies to be operated by the designated airlines of each Party. Air Mauritius will also be able to exercise fifth freedom traffic rights at a number of intermediate and beyond points on routes specified in the Agreement. Both countries may operate all cargo services between and beyond the territory of the Contracting Parties without any capacity and frequency restrictions with full third, fourth and fifth freedom traffic rights.
It is expected that the new air services agreement will give a boost to passenger traffic between the two countries and will be beneficial for cross border collaboration, as well as enhance Swaziland investment opportunities in Mauritius. The BASA is also important for the air transport sector's contribution to the economic and social development of both countries.
The signature of the Agreement is a follow-up of a visit in February 2016 of a delegation from Swaziland, led by the Minister of Transport of the Government of the Kingdom Swaziland, to Mauritius. During the visit, it was agreed to review and modernise the existing Air Services Agreement.
The issue of air connectivity between Mauritius and Swaziland was also discussed between Mr Pravind K. Jugnauth, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius and Dr Sibusiso B. Dlamini, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Swaziland, in the margins of the inaugural session of the African Economic Platform, held last month in Mauritius.
Air Services between Mauritius and the Kingdom of Swaziland have so far been governed by the framework of an Agreed Record and a BASA concluded in May 1977. The Agreement provides, amongst others, for single designation of airline and one weekly frequency to be operated by the designated airline of each Contracting Party.
It will be recalled that in the late 70's and early 80's Royal Swazi National Airways operated direct air services between Mauritius and Swaziland. However, it ceased its services to Mauritius in 1981. In the absence of direct air links between Mauritius and Swaziland, passengers travel through the Johannesburg gateway. In 2016, tourist arrivals from Swaziland stood at 370.
The Singapore-Mauritius-Africa Air Transport Corridor project
In line with Vision 2030, the Government of Mauritius is implementing a more open and robust air access policy that takes into account both the national interest and economic growth. In this perspective, a collaboration agreement was signed between Air Mauritius and Changi Airport Group in Singapore.
The creation of this air corridor, which became operational in March 2016, serves as a link between Africa and Asia via Mauritius. As part of this initiative, Air Mauritius has expanded its network into Africa with two new destinations, namely, Maputo and Dar-es-Salaam.
Air Mauritius has also successfully managed to strike a commercial agreement and partnership with Singapore Airlines this year that gives a new impetus to the air corridor and makes travel beyond Singapore to Asian countries more economical. In this context, Swaziland has been invited to join the air corridor to bring new synergies and further strengthen this project.