Air travel in EAC region should be made more affordable for citizens
The cost of air travel within the East African Community (EAC) region is still very high, which is also due to high operating costs and onerous visa requirements experienced by African airlines, regional legislators and a senior airline executive have complained.
The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has recently called on EAC member state leaders to work hard to lower the cost of air travel to make it more affordable for citizens. As it adopted the report of its Committee on Communication, Trade, and Investment on the assessment of the Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency (CASSOA)’s performance, it concluded the current state of the industry makes flying more of a preserve for those who are relatively well-off. “There is a need to explore strategies to make airfares affordable,” the Committee Chairperson, MP Shahbal Said Suleiman, noted, explaining that the taxes, charges, and fees that affect ticket costs are high in the EAC region. The parliamentary report also exposed that each EAC country puts in place a regulatory framework governing the air transport services sector, including charges per passenger and air navigation.
Meanwhile, echoing these conclusions and recommendations by the EALA, RwandAir CEO Yvonne Manzi Makolo has drawn attention to the financial difficulties faced by airlines operating within Africa. Speaking during the 79th Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit organized by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Istanbul earlier in June, Makolo highlighted the high operating costs and burdensome visa requirements experienced by African airlines, which are translated into increased travel expenses for passengers on the continent compared to other regions. Despite some reduction in fuel prices, Makolo emphasized that operational costs for African airlines still remained exceptionally high that can be attributed to factors such as fuel prices, taxes, landing fees, navigation charges, and other operational expenses. She underscored the clear advantages of open skies and open borders and urged for a more rapid transformation of the aviation landscape across Africa.