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International Aviation negotiation conference kicks off in Nairobi



Delegations from 70 countries around the world are gathering in Nairobi to negotiate Air Service Agreements at the eleventh (11th) International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Air Services Negotiation Event (ICAN2018).

ICAN, an annual global aviation event convened by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) since 2008 aims at providing meeting facilities for States to conduct multiple bilateral, regional or pluri-lateral air services negotiations on market access in a single location thus sparing the member states the trouble of making individual trips to each of the countries.

It is also a forum for the participants to learn about current trends, discuss topical issues and exchange experiences and excellent networking opportunities. Negotiations between States remain private in nature, not open to   third parties

Guided by the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention), 1944,it is expected that the participating delegations will be negotiating plurilateral, multilateral and bilateral agreements that will allow them to operate international air services.

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Some of the freedoms to be negotiated include – first, the right to overfly a country’s airspace without landing; second, the right to make technical stops without embarking or disembarking of passengers or cargo for purposes such as refueling or other maintenance; third, the right to carry passengers or cargo from one’s own country to another; fourth, the right to carry passengers or cargo from another country to one’s own country. The fifth freedom allows an airline to carry revenue traffic between foreign countries as a part of services connecting the airline’s own country.

However, it is worth noting that even when reciprocal third and fourth freedom rights are granted, Air Services Agreements (ASAs), may still restrict many aspects of the traffic, such as the capacity of an aircraft, the frequency of flights, the airlines designated to fly and the airport(s) permitted to be served.

While officiating ICAN2018 opening ceremony, President Uhuru Kenyatta reiterated the government’s commitment to upholding the ICAO global aviation standards and support for liberalization of air transport in Africa.

“The Government of Kenya recognizes the transport sector as a facilitator and enabler of rapid economic growth, wealth creation, tourism and a source of foreign exchange.  It is for this reason that the strategic plans for the various Government agencies related to aviation espouse objectives relating to the highest levels of safety and security, adoption of appropriate modern infrastructure of airport and air navigation services, economic efficiency and competitiveness environmental balance and sustainability. Indeed, the latest report on the country’s compliance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS), places Kenya amongst the top quarter States globally and ranked top 5 in Africa,” said H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta.

“Kenya is also committed towards the full realization of the African Union’s Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) initiative that will see Africa converging into one air service market. To this end, Kenya is one of the 25 States that have so far signed up for SAATAM,” added H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta.

Recent years have seen the global aviation industry on a steady growth trajectory in commercial flight volumes with no signs of slowing. Current forecasts see the numbers of passengers and operations in global air transport doubling in the coming years. It is anticipated that by the mid-2030s, more than 200,000 flights per day will take off and land all over the world.

In his speech during the opening ceremony, Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, President of ICAO Council urged the ICAO member states take advantage of the exponential growth in the sector by embracing the principles of open borders and free trade through liberalization of air transport.

“The projected growth in the aviation industry, presents new and tremendous opportunity for global development in the coming decades. However, to take advantage of this growth, and optimize it for economic development, we must address the challenges to liberalise the aviation sector worldwide and legitimately establish inter-connectivity among states,” said Dr. Aliu

Last year, over 4 billion passengers and 56 million tonnes of freight were carried on 37 million commercial flights.  It is estimated that over 65 million jobs worldwide were generated and more than USD2.7 trillion to global GDP.

Among the benefits derived from ICAN include free market competition through traffic rights on international routes and connectivity.

The eleventh ICAO Air Services Negotiation Event (ICAN2018) was attended by Mr. James Macharia, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development and Public Works; Capt. Gilbert MKibe, Director General, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, ICAO Council Members, Leaders of delegations and stakeholders in the aviation industry.

International Organizations and Institutions which have confirmed participation include Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO), International Air Transport Association (IATA), International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), and Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency (CASSOA).

The event being hosted by Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) through the Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development and Public Works on behalf of the Government of Kenya at the Intercontinental Hotel will end on Friday.