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MBABANE – The Royal Swazi National Airways Corporation  (RSNAC) airline will fly to 10 countries - nine in Africa and one in Asia.
Bilateral Air Service Agreements between government and the new destination countries have been signed.

Courtesy of these agreements, the RSNAC airline, which used to operate two aircrafts (Fokker 100 and Fokker 28), will fly to destinations such as the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Ethiopia, Zambia, Rwanda, South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda and Botswana among others.
A bilateral air transport agreement (also sometimes called a bilateral air service agreement or ATA) is an agreement which two nations sign to allow international commercial air transport services between their territories.

This information was confirmed by Solomon Dube, Director of the Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA). Dube said the signing of the accord meant that the Swaziland airline, which also used to be called Lijubantsendzele, will fly to these countries and also the destination countries airlines would also fly into Swaziland.
Swaziland airline authorities are yet to purchase an aircraft though. Recently, government indicated plans to acquire through outright purchase or lease an airplane. The aircraft that were in consideration were those in the category 90- to 100-seater jets that cost in the region of E700 million. All these developments come in the wake of the completion of the Sikhuphe International Airport, which is part of the Millennium Projects worth E3 billion.

Dube said his organisation used the RSNAC airline to enter into agreements with these countries. “RSNAC is our designated airline. We used it when signing the agreements because the requirement for such agreements is that we have our national airline,” he said.
He said plans were still in the pipeline to acquire one. “As a regulator and operator of the Sikhuphe International Airport, our job is to ensure that the facility is functional. Whether an airline is bought for it or not, is not our responsibility but that of government,” he said.

He said government recently revived the airline, RSNAC even though it was yet to acquire a plane. “The entity presently operates as a travel agent but there are plans to restore it to a fully functional airline and that is why we are using them when we sign the agreements,” he said.
Dube said the rationale behind acquiring on aircraft was that each time they went abroad to market the new airport, reputable airlines demanded that the country should have a national airline which would ferry, on-transit passengers.

He said the big airliners agreed `in principle’ to bring passengers to Swaziland but wanted to know if these passengers would not be stuck in the country. The aircraft will be operated from the Sikhuphe International Airport.
This is an infrastructure that was designed with a runway to accommodate even the world’s largest plane, an Airbus A380. Government has forecast an annual passenger turnover of 250 000 to 300 000, an almost fivefold increase in the numbers passing through the existing airport in Matsapha.

The airport is located in a remote location more than 80 kilometres east of the capital, Mbabane.
Dube said following completion of the structure, airlines were now free to apply to land their planes adding that this was subject to approval. He said if approved, planes could land at the airport as it was ready to service airlines.

He said his department had deployed a full complement of personnel to work in the facility. The licensing and launching of the airport will happen despite a damning report released by an engineer attached to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

Senior Engineer Derrick Dlamini said there were construction flaws which had a potential to render the facility unusable.
Dlamini is said to have submitted two technical reports to government alleging that there were major structural defects in the airport’s concrete apron and that it was unfit for use by large commercial aircraft.

However, government, through Economic Planning Minister Prince Hlangusemphi rubbished the reports and said his claims were unsubstantiated.
“That engineer is not qualified to speak about the airport,” he had said.

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