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* Sri Lanka, South Africa sign Bilateral Air Services Agreement
Mon, Feb 24, 2014, 11:42 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 24, Tshwane: Sri Lanka and South Africa have signed a groundbreaking Bilateral Air Services Agreement to enable air services operations by designated airlines of both countries.

Sri Lanka's Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Management Nimal Siripala De Silva and South Africa's Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters signed the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) on Friday (February 21) in Tshwane, further strengthening diplomatic relations between the two countries, Department of Transport said in a release.

Sri Lanka is one of the countries from South Asia identified to pursue a review of air services arrangements and renegotiations of Bilateral Air Services Agreements.

A Sri Lankan delegation led by Minister de Silva visited South Africa from February 20-21.

Aeronautical authorities of the two countries first met in 1994 to discuss establishing air services arrangements and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) while initiating a draft BASA to serve as a working document for the authorities to conclude required constitutional obligations in their respective countries.

Authorities of the two countries met in 2010 in Colombo for discussions on the BASA and signed a liberalization framework in the form of a MoU.

Subsequent to South Africa's proposal of legal comments on the draft BASA, Sri Lanka accepted the comments and proposed the signing thereof on 29 July 2013.

The Sri Lankan delegation's visit to Pretoria enabled the two governments to sign the much-awaited BASA last week.

"We started this process all those years ago, way back then in 1994 and today we mark this watershed moment and achievement. This is yet another of our good stories that we are telling that ties and fits very well with the Republic celebrating 20 years of freedom" said Minister Peters at the signing.

Currently, there is no direct operator(s) between South Africa and Sri Lanka. South African Airways and the SriLankan Airlines are the only two officially designated carriers. SriLankan Airlines market services on Etihad operated services to South Africa seven times a week on the Abu Dhabi-Johannesburg route and vice versa.

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