KAMPALA-UGANDA, The Minister for Works and Transport, Gen Katumba Wamala has asked stakeholders in the African aviation industry to encourage liberalization of African Air transport to improve trade and interconnectivity.
Katumba made the call on Monday while addressing hundreds of delegates at the ongoing African Airlines Association (AFRAA) 55th Annual General Assembly (AGA) taking place at Speke Resort Munyonyo.
Held under the theme, “Strides to Transform Aviation for Development”, this year’s AFRAA AGA is being hosted by Uganda Airlines under the high patronage of the Ministry of Works and Transport.
The summit has attracted the attendance of over 500 high-profile delegates from the aviation industry in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and North America.
Addressing the delegates, Minister Katumba highlighted that Uganda has been one of the most open aviations on the continent and will continue to do so.
He urged all African aviations to consider the idea of removing air restrictions and visa restrictions to allow free movement of people and goods across the continent, noting that Uganda is taking lead on this.
“So, in principle, we have always supported the idea of a liberal African air transport market. We, however, wish to note that it is a process. To this end, we have commenced the process to align with the certain principles, and in due course, We shall be announcing our commencement date,”
Furthermore, Katumba applauded Uganda Airlines CEO, Bamuturaki and her team for undertaking strategic efforts that have seen the national carrier register steady recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In Uganda, for example, in September 2023, traffic through Entebbe was trading at about 14% over and above what it did in 2019. That’s a very good recovery. Operators are returning to their free COVID -19 schedules and have some new entrants into the market.”
He further expressed the government’s committment to playing its role in the development and growth of the African aviation.
On her part, Bamuturaki said, “We welcome you to enter this final lap with Uganda Airlines on our journey into the 55th AFRAA Annual Assembly. Uganda Airlines is the youngest airline to host this assembly. We have been in space for just four years and we are very proud to bring this assembly home.”
She noted that the summit presents a huge opportunity for African aviations to demonstrate how they can stand together and demonstrate value.
On his part, the Secretary General of AFRAA, Berthé Abdérahmane noted that the assembly provides an opportunity for cooperation and collaboration to develop a resilient and sustainable perspective for the airline industry.
He also urged African Airlines to remain committed and determined overcome the challenges facing the African aviation industry as the industry has almost recovered from the Covid-19 disruptions.
“As an aviation community, we must keep the ongoing joint efforts to support the resumption and foster a resilient Air Transport system in Africa.” Abdérahmane urged.
The high-level assembly which was graced by the Deputy President, Jessica Alupo on Monday is to close on Tuesday.
The assembly is being attended by representatives from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Air Transport Association (IATA), African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) AFRAA partners, sponsors, and many others.