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Govt. moves to ease air travel difficulties

Apr 19, 2013, 7:48 AM

Deputies at the National Assembly Wednesday ratified two bilateral air service agreements, between the governments of The Gambia and Kenya and the governments of The Gambia and Saudi Arabia.

The agreements, tabled before deputies by the minister of Works, Construction and Infrastructure, Francis Liti Mboge, seeks among others to address the challenges of flight connections between two destinations.

Moving the motion on the agreement between The Gambia and Kenya before deputies, Mboge said what makes this agreement endearing is that it is between two African countries, one located in the west and the other in east of the continent.

The objective, he said, is to establish air services between and beyond their respective territories.

‘The agreement ensures the granting of rights to each contracting party to exploit international services on the specified routes,’ he said, adding that the objectives of the agreement are consistent with those of the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE) and Vision 2020.

According to him, the agreement also allows for improved air transport services, which in turn will boost the socio-economic development of the continent.

‘While flight connections between two destinations invariably pose a challenge, it is not unusual for passengers to experience prolonged delays at airports. This agreement is meant to address such anomalies through improved services and through increased flight connections from one destination to the other in the continent,’ he told deputies.

He noted that the proposed liberalization of access to the air transport market, as stated in the Yamoussoukro Decision relating to the implementation of the Yamoussoukro Declaration, is clearly in line with these goals.

He further stated that the implementation of the agreement will give rise to employment opportunities in the aviation industry, as well as boost productivity in tourism and related activities.

Further moving the motion on the agreement between The Gambia and Saudi Arabia, the minister said air travel in our part of the world suffers too many constraints.

‘More often than not, passengers spend prolonged periods travelling from one destination to another, either because of the non-availability of flights or that inter-connections are complicated, or do not exist at all.

The experience in other parts of the world is different. There is, therefore, a strong need improve the African air transport market, and make fares more affordable, in line with the objectives of the Yamoussoukro Decision,’ he stated.

Mboge further stated that, besides opening up of the air transport market, it is envisaged that the agreement will ease air travel in the sub-region, as well as increase employment in the aviation industry.