Hon. Traoré Seynabou Diop, Mali’s minister for transport signs with her counterpart Hon. Dr. Alexis Nzahabwanimana

Kigali, 14th February, 2017- Rwanda and Mali signed bilateral Airspace Service Agreement meant to foster Trade, tourism and economic cooperation. The event was held at the Ministry of infrastructure headquarters in Kigali. The Agreement was signed by the Rwandan Minister of State in charge of Transport Dr. Alexis Nzahabwanimana and his Malian counterpart Honorable Traoré Seynabou Diop.

Both countries agreed to open their airspaces allowing their national carriers to operate without restrictions.

According to the agreement, all air service operations will be conducted under the fifth freedom arrangement, which means an airline, has the right to carry passengers from one country to another and from that country to a third country.

The agreement means the airlines of the two countries can operate unlimited frequencies per week for both passenger and cargo services.

This means that RwandAir can now fly to Bamoko in Mali without any limitations, Dr. Alexis Nzahabwanimana, the Minister of State in charge of Transport, said after the signing ceremony in Kigali.

According to Honorable Nzahabwanimana, the agreement will enhance connectivity between the two countries and cut the cost of transport from Kigali to Bamako.

He said the deal brings to life the Yamoussoukro Decision signed in 2000 by 44 countries, which committed to open African skies and facilitate aviation business on the continent.

But, despite the pledge, individual countries have run into difficulties absorbing the decision into their own domestic legislations, which has stalled the process frustrating African airlines, including RwandAir.

For instance, passengers travelling from Kigali to Bamako currently have no choice but to do so by connecting either through Ethiopia or Nairobi, which take more than 10 hours.

However, with the agreement, passengers from Kigali will now be able to fly directly to Bamako in less than five hours.

Rwanda has so far signed similar agreements with 38 countries in Africa and elsewhere.

Hon. Traoré Seynabou Diop, Mali’s Minister for transport, said the agreement is a manifestation of stronger bilateral ties between the two countries.

Seynabou said enhanced connectivity will eventually translate into increased export and tourism receipts for both countries.

John Mirenge, the Chief Executive Officer of RwandAir, notifies the deal is timely and boosts the airline’s efforts to further spread its wings across the continent.

Mirenge said Bamako is a strategic destination that will expose RwandAir to more West African markets, including Conakry in Guinea and Dakar, Senegal.

The national carrier will soon start commercial flights to Harare in Zimbabwe, Lilongwe in Malawi, London, UK, and New York in the US.

With more countries agreeing to the principle of open sky policy, RwandAir could find it much easier to strengthen its presence on the continent.