Reporter: By Kaleyesus Bekele –
Owners of private airlines and allied businesses complained of bottlenecks in the airline business in Ethiopia. At a consultative meeting organized by the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority on Monday some owners of private airlines expressed their disappointment on the investment climate in the local airline industry. licensing procedures, problems related to duty-free privileges and unavailability of plots of land for the maintenance hangars.
The general manger of Amibara Aviation Services, Capt. Biniam Yirbo, said that his company engaged in proving aerial pesticide spraying service was unable to import spraying aircraft tax-exempt. “Tractors and combines are imported without customs duty. When my company imports spraying aircraft it was asked to pay customs duty by the Revenue and Customs Authority.
When we argued with them that with our investment license we should be able to import without paying taxes, they told us to deposit the money and the case would be dealt with later. With the hope of getting back our money we deposited the required amount. But it has been two years since we deposited the money,” said Capt. Biniam. “We have written letters of complaints to the Authority and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) to no avail.”
A representative of MoFED said that he was unaware of that particular case. “We will consider it when it is brought to the ministry’s attention.”
Capt. Biniam said that there were no plots of land made available for the construction of their own maintenance hangar.
Shiferaw Alemu, director of the Ethiopian Airport Enterprise, said that the fact that the private airlines do not have maintenance and ramp is creating a problem. “They are creating problems for the big airlines. When the airport is crowded some of the private airlines park near the Ethiopian Airlines hangar and this has instigated protest from the airline,” Shiferaw said. He said that to mitigate the problem the enterprise is preparing three hectares of land at the airport allotted for the construction of maintenance hangars.
The manager of Tango Aviation Services, Tesfaye Geletu, said that a monopolistic right was given to one company (Ethiopian Airlines) over ground handling service sector (provision of flight related services). Tesfaye said that although he acquired a license for ground-handling service from CAA, his staff members were denied entry pass to the airport. “We are unable to do the business as we are denied access to the airport but we are paying tax to the government,” he lamented.
Endashaw Yigezu, air transport and planning directorate director at CAA, said that his company was denied entry pass due to security reasons. However, Endashaw said the Authority is undertaking a study on licensing procedures that would enable them to draft a new investment law on the aviation sector. According to Endashaw, air liberalization, seat limits imposed on aircraft to be operated by private airlines, air navigation service tariff and licensing procedures would be revised.
Col. Wossenyeleh Hunegnaw, director of CAA, told The Reporter that with the view to developing the aviation sector and solving problems the Authority was organizing a consultative meetings with stakeholders every six months.
The Authority is working on a five-year strategy aimed at reducing aircraft accidents by 17 percent every year. Currently, there are 30 incidents registered every year and the authority plans to reduce this figure to ten within five years.
There are more than 20 private registered airlines but only eight are operational. All of them provide charter flight services.