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Govt Wary Of ‘Open Skies’, Says Sharma

The Permanent Secretary for Civil Aviation, Sharvada Sharma, says the Fijian Government is treading carefully in a “measured approach” on the issue of “Open Skies”. Mr Sharma, who is also
12 Dec 2015 12:23
Govt Wary Of ‘Open  Skies’, Says Sharma
Participants at the 17th Attorney-General’s Conference, at InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa in Natadola yesterday. Photo: Luke Nacei

The Permanent Secretary for Civil Aviation, Sharvada Sharma, says the Fijian Government is treading carefully in a “measured approach” on the issue of “Open Skies”.

Mr Sharma, who is also the Solicitor-General, said yesterday during the 17th Attorney-General’s Conference at InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa: “The Fijian Government has also been approached by a number of developed countries from the Middle East and Asia region which have very large and well established air carriers, to enter into Open Skies ASAs.

“However, for Fiji and for our economy which is largely dependent on tourism, numerous economic analysis show that there is really no sustainable long term economic benefits to liberalising ASAs for the sake of liberalisation alone. This would not only harm our economy in the long run, but will also cause immense survival concerns for our national carrier.”

ASAs (Air Services Agreements) are legal agreements between two countries (or regions) which ascertain the rights of the parties to the ASAs and determine the passenger and freight traffic that can travel between the two countries or regions

Mr Sharma said the Fijian Government supported the creation of new air links and markets to Fiji, “but not at the expense of risking our current markets and not at the expense of posing real risks of undermining our economy in the long run, our national carrier and our connectivity to the world.”

Earlier, Fiji Airways chief executive officer (CEO) and managing director, Andre Viljoen had cautioned Government about opening up the skies and its implications on the national airline.

Fiji has 28 bilateral ASAs and currently only 10 carriers are utilising their rights to fly to and from Fiji.

“They are not fully utilising all their rights in terms of capacity and access points. In this respect, Fiji is currently negotiating with other nations to expand our commercial aviation sector,” he said.

Open Skies is generally a policy for full liberalisation of international air services. It allows unlimited access to all destinations and routes for a particular country and quite often includes no restrictions on intermediate and beyond traffic.

It is a complex issue that has been the subject of extensive analysis and debate among contracting States of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Edited by: Maikeli Seru

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