Civil Aviation technical experts from the COMESA region have agreed on the implementation of the regional Seamless Upper Airspace project.
Subject to approval by COMESA Council of Ministers, the region will next year start implementing a seven year programme which will eventually culminate in the establishment of a seamless upper airspace based on harmonized civil aviation rules and procedures.
This will result in improved safety, security, reduced operating and travel costs for airlines.
The experts met for the third technical and financial feasibility study of the COMESA Airspace integration project in Victoria Falls town of Zimbabwe from 7-9 June 2017.
The implementation of the first phase of the COMESA Seamless Upper Airspace Project has been agreed to by the experts from Member countries most of whom are currently working as individual countries when it comes to the aviation sector.
Director of Infrastructure and Logistics Mr. Jean Baptiste Mutabazi described the project as critical for the regional economic bloc and its people.
“The ultimate goal is to create a common market. A seamless upper airspace will greatly help us achieve that. We need to have a common control international center which will lead to efficiency, improved safety and cost effectiveness in the aviation industry,” Mr. Mutabazi said in Victoria Falls Zimbabwe.
He was speaking during an interview on the sidelines of the 3rd Technical and Financial Feasibility regional workshop.
This project will assist the region to establish a seamless upper airspace by deploying satellite-based air navigation technology to enhance safety and the flow of air traffic hence supporting trade, tourism and regional socio-economic integration in COMESA.
COMESA countries currently operate the airspace individually a situation which contributes to the high the cost of operations and air travel.
With this project Mr. Mutabazi said the region will have harmonized rules, standards and procedures and will be able to share routes for aircrafts to use. This will have a direct positive impact on operating costs.
“Once the cost of operating an aircraft is reduced we expect that airlines will also reduce the cost of the ticket. This means more people will afford the tickets and use air travel more often,” he said.
Speaking during the opening of the technical workshop, Zimbabwe’s Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Eng. Michael Madanha said a seamless upper airspace will promote growth and regional integration.
“The benefits of the harmonized and seamless upper air space integration project are safe, efficient and cost effective air navigation services which will support trade, tourism and regional socio-economic integration,” Minister Madanha said.
He mentioned some of the challenges faced by airlines in the region as high operational costs, inefficiencies, lack of flexibility and differing regulations and procedures.
A team of experts from the Project Consultants EGIS AVIA of France led by Mr. Thierry Debord made various presentations on the technical and financial feasibility study of establishing the project.
The workshop was attended by civil aviation experts from Burundi, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.