Rwanda signed several Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) with seven more nations in a bid to expand its air services and routes in Africa, Asia and Europe.
The deals where signed alongside the 11th Air Services Negotiation Event (ICAN2018) in held in Kenya’s capital Nairobi from 10 to 14 December 2018.
Rwanda signed agreements with Gambia, Bahamas, Chile, Czech Republic, South Korea, Portugal and Luxembourg.
The agreements will permit airlines of these countries to operate international air services between these countries’ cities and to operate commercial and cargo flights in both countries.
These deals come at a time when Rwanda’s national carrier RwandAir has set an ambitious expansion plan to operate commercial and cargo flights in through Africa, Europe and Asia.
With over 60 BASA agreements now signed by Rwanda, and Rwandair may add on to its 26 destinations including upcoming USA, Guangzhou-China and Tel Aviv-Israel routes and be opened to other 22 routes in west and central Africa, using (under) this agreement.
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has asked African countries to sign BASA deals in order to attain the African Union (AU) development agendas especially free continental trade and integration.
Aviation experts say international air links between many cities are expensive or non-existent.
This expense has seen African countries trade less than 15 percent of the continental trade potential annually, with an intra-African trade worth just $170 million, according to the World Bank, when the potential stands at trillions of dollars.
So far, Twenty-three African countries have signed on to the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) agreement according to the Yamoussoukro Declaration of 1988- which is intended to drive down airfares by allowing the airlines of signatory countries to freely access each other’s airports.
Rwanda took the lead in this deal followed by Only Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa Swaziland, Togo and Zimbabwe.
Closed air skies cost Africa more than $700 million in 2015, and more than $800 million in 2016, whereas Europe made more profits amounting to $35.6billion in 2016 according to the International air transport Association (IATA) data.