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Authority relaxes aviation proclamation to enhance private sector involvement
Director General of ECAA, Wossenyeleh Hunegnaw (Col.) deliberating on the draft proclamation,

Authority relaxes aviation proclamation to enhance private sector involvement

The Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA) is revising the existing Civil Aviation Proclamation and regulation to enhance the participation of the private sector.

The Authority yesterday held a consultative meeting with stakeholders on the draft civil aviation proclamation and regulations. Director General of ECAA, Wossenyeleh Hunegnaw (Col.), noted that the existing civil aviation law was enacted in 2001 and the global aviation industry has transformed a lot in the past years. “With the existing proclamation and regulations we cannot meet the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) standards. Second the participation of the private sector in the aviation sector was limited. With the new proclamation and regulation we want to enhance the participation of the private sector. We also want regional states and cities to have a stake in the aviation sector,” Wossenyeleh said.

Wossenyeleh said that the aviation policy which was drafted some years back was not presented for discussion during the meeting. “We shall make some amendments based on the direction to be given by the government,” he said. 

The amendments of the civil aviation proclamation, air transport accessibility and development regulation and small airports ownership and operation regulation were presented to the stakeholders.

Endeshaw Yigezu, air transport director with ECAA, disclosed that the air transport sector in Ethiopia did is not developed considering the vast growth opportunity. Endesahw said the participation of the private sector in the aviation sector is limited. “It is a big challenge for the government to build the entire air transport infrastructure by itself, administer and operate it all by itself. The way forward should be a public private partnership,” he said.

Officials of ECAA revealed that the government intends to open the air transport sector for the private sector. The draft regulation proposes small airports to be built and operate by the private sector, regional government and city administrations. The regulation opens ground handling services, aircraft parts designing, manufacturing and maintenance work for the private sector. While the draft proclamation allows the participation of foreign companies and nationals in local aviation companies the controlling interest should be held by Ethiopian nationals.             

According to Hanna Tegegnework, aerodrome, safety and standards director with ECAA, investors are requesting to build their own small airports and heliports. “Hotels and hospitals are demanding to build helipads,” she said.

Hiwot Mossisa, state minister of the Ministry of Transport, noted that Ethiopian Airlines which is the pride of the nation, has registered a remarkable growth. Hiwot said the ECAA and Ethiopian Airports have also transformed but the general aviation is at its infant stage. “The aviation sector did not grow as it should. It should create job opportunities for thousands of university graduates and contribute more to the economy. We did not yet cover all the tourist destinations,” she said.

Solomon Gizaw (Capt), managing director of Abyssinia Flight Services, said that the growth of private operators have been restricted. “If we are talking about African open skies agreement let us first open the local air transport market. How long should we be limited to transporting two tourists to Jinka?” he asked.

Mekonnen Abebe of ICAS said that the point of entry to Ethiopia is only Addis Ababa Airport. “Why don’t we allow aircraft carrying tourists to Lalibela and Ertalle to land there instead of coming to Addis Ababa?” he said.

Mesfin Tassew, chief operating officer with Ethiopian Airlines, pointed out that ECAA should not control air ticket prices. Mesfin also opposed ECAA’s proposal to collect aviation development tax from operators. He also hinted that the air navigation service could be given by an independent body. “As there is a big problem with air navigation service it can be rendered by public enterprise or private company,” he said.

Abera Lemi, owner of National Airways, asked why the Authority did not mention about the aircraft seat limitation in the draft proclamation.

Frehiwot Tessema, CEO of Aquarius Aviation, mentioned that the private operators do not have access to financing. “The banks do not recognise the aviation sector. The Development Bank of Ethiopia says aviation is not its priority area,” Frehiwot said. She also said that private operators do not have adequate space at the Addis Ababa Airport adding that it would be commendable if a separate small airport is built for the general aviation.  

Wossenyeleh said that the aircraft seat limitation is addressed in the draft aviation policy. “We hope that the draft aviation policy will be endorsed soon. If it is going to take a long time we will lift the seat limitation,” he said.

According to Wossenyeleh, countries such as Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria collects aviation development fees from airlines and ECAA can do the same to mitigate the finance constraint.

Wossenyeleh said that Addis Ababa should not be the only point of entry. “We have four international airports which can handle international flights. We also want to serve the industrial parks and dry ports. But we need to have immigration, security and customs services in place.”

The officials requested the stakeholders to submit their inputs in writing to the Authority.