East Africa: EAC Trade Body Pushes for Opening of Airspace

The East African Business Council (EABC) is rallying regional governments to reopen the skies to kick start trade, tourism and hospitality sectors.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, EABC commended the public health measures aimed at containg the spread of Covid-19,but noted it was time to resume the flights.

"This is vital for the recovery of the aviation sector in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Tanzania resumed international flights on May 18, chartered flights in Rwanda restarted on June 18, Kenya has planned to open domestic air travel on July 15 and international flights in Kenya and Rwanda are expected to resume on August 1," the statement read in part.

While the regional states allowed air cargo services to facilitate import and export operations, EABC indicated that they "need to come up with regional coordinated guidelines and measures on the opening of the regional aviation sector to bolster consumer confidence and support the recovery of the sector."

Uganda has not set a tentative date for reopening Entebbe airport for passenger flight operations.

Currently, the airport is partially open for return of Ugandans from abroad, and case by case chartered flights for exiting foreign nationals. It was closed on March 22.

Mr Gideon Badagawa, the executive director of the Private Sector Foundation--Uganda, a member of EABC, yesterday said they back the proposal.

"Covid-19 is with us but I don't think it is going to be here permanently, so we need to start thinking long term; life has to continue regardless," Mr Badagawa said.

"We have to work out a strategy of moving forward; air transport was stopped world over from China and the rest, but they have loosened up a bit; that is the case we are making here," he added.

The calls to reopen airspace to allow domestic and foreign travel came after workers and traders asked government to reopen the economy.

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