As the long march for the new Republic of South Sudan continues into Independence, the young country has made another milestone step when it finally was accepted as the 191st member of ICAO. The International Civil Aviation Organization admitted South Sudan last week on the 10th of November, paving the way for a range of support measures ICAO can give to new countries which have to build an entire new structure aviation supervision and create a new regulatory regime. The ICAO Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa will next week send a fact finding mission to Juba to establish areas of most urgent need and to jointly devise a programme and timeframe for the implementation of ICAOs technical requirements and harmonization to fast track South Sudan to become a compliant member, upholding the principles of aviation safety and effective oversight.
From regular sources in Juba it is also understood that efforts are now underway to enter into negotiations with other countries for bilateral air services agreements, to reflect the aspiration of the new country on the basis of reciprocity and to replace existing BASAs inherited from the regime in Khartoum, which in the past dictated access to South Sudans territory while still a semi autonomous region prior to Independence. Amongst the key areas of investment and infrastructural development is the completion of the countrys main airport in Juba, where presently only daylight operations are possible due to the absence of runway lighting systems, and where the limited space can no longer cope with the sharp increase in aircraft movements and passenger numbers. ICAO and other international bodies will seek to assist the new government to establish a viable and well regulated sector. Notably, the government in Juba seems also set to establish a new national airline, which will operate side by side with a number of privately owned airlines, already operating for some years or else just recently established, and some aviation stakeholders have voiced their concern of routes being given with priority to a new national airline, pushing them either out of business or else limiting their own growth. Watch this space.