Uganda to join SAATM

Uganda Airlines. Photo / File  

What you need to know:

  • The Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) is aimed at strengthening regional air connectivity and facilitating the connection between African cities.

The State Minister for Transport Mr Fred Byamukama has revealed that Uganda will join the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) to strengthen regional air connectivity and facilitate connection between African cities.

“I must assure you that before we reach June, the closure of this financial year, cabinet will have resolved this matter. From there, we shall be able to join and also become uniformly part of SAATM like how others have done it,” he said.

Mr Byamukama made the remarks on Monday while opening the second sensitization workshop on the Model Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) that conforms to the provisions of the Yamoussoukro Decision. He was representing Minister of Works and Transport, Gen Katumba Wamala.

“I reiterate the government of Uganda's commitment to improving the infrastructure services with a holistic approach that emphasizes safety and security for passengers and cargo,” he said.

Mr Byamukama said countries reviewing their BASAs, removing all restrictions and traffic lights is one of the measures being undertaken to implement a Single African Air Transport Market which will improve, connectivity, trade, and tourism on the continent.

The team leader COMESA Support to Air Transport Sector Development (SATSD) Programme, Mr Adikiny Olwenge said the BASA programme is being implemented within the five regional economic communities of COMESA, EAC, IGAD, IOC, and SADC.

“Our main objective is to improve the development of air transport with Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, and the Indian Ocean region with key objectives in the operationalisation of a single African Air transport Market, strengthening the regulatory capacity of the Civil Aviation Authorities and ensure there is improvement in Air navigation services,” he said.

Mr Adikiny said while many Air transport markets outside of Africa have been liberalized to a significant extent, most intra-African air transport markets remain largely closed due to restrictive BASA which has affected air connectivity within Africa and has limited the potential economic growth and development.

The Director of Safety Security and Economic Regulation at the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) Mr Ronnie Balongo said the SAATM will enable airlines to pick up passengers from a third-party country by exercising the fifth freedom of traffic rights.

“The SAATM opens interconnectivity between the African states like how you see the European air space, it's open to all European carriers. We expect African Air carriers to have open routing, a free connection so that we move away from the point-to-point connection like how you see Entebbe to Nairobi, Nairobi to Dar es Salaam to Rwanda. An airline moves through those points without picking passengers but when you open the airspace through SAATM, an airline will be able to pick passengers from those points which are not its host country,” he said. 

Mr Balongo said the SAATM will increase air traffic since the restrictions will be no more.