Air services

IATA official concerned that SA air services boards remain ‘frozen’


South Africa’s national and international air service boards have been “frozen” since March. (iStock)

  • The regional vice president of the International Air Transport Association for Africa and the Middle East is visiting Johannesburg.
  • Kamil Alawadhi met with a number of local airlines and aviation entities as well as the Department of Transport.
  • raised a variety of key issues, including the urgency of re-entering South Africa’s air service boards, assistance to the aviation sector, the implementation of a travel pass for the country and the search for greater connectivity on the continent.

A senior representative of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on the government to establish key aviation councils.

South Africa has not had an International Air Services Council (IASC) since March of this year.

The IASC decides on applications for licenses and permits to operate air services to and from the SA. The country’s National Air Services Council – which assists with licensing processes and controls for local air services – is also not in place.

The Minister of Transport is responsible for appointing an IASC chair and appointing at least four other members, but this has yet to happen.

Kamil Alawadhi, IATA Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, told a press conference on Thursday that he had had a “fruitful” meeting with Deputy Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga .

According to Alawadhi, she assured him that it was one of her priorities to reinstate South Africa’s national and international air service boards as soon as possible.

“We were concerned that both boards have been ‘frozen’ since March. The deputy assured me that she is working diligently to get both boards up and running. This will be good for both domestic and international carriers. “, did he declare. “Most airlines are already planning where they want to operate next year and on what frequencies. They need the approval of both of these boards.”

Members of the aviation industry told Fin24 that the lack of guidance had left the already battered aviation industry in a more chaotic state as airlines waited for their air traffic rights claims to be processed.

Alawadhi also raised the issue of possible financial relief for the local airline industry as a whole and said the subject had been “fairly well covered” by the Ministry of Transport.

“There are different ways for states to help their airlines. This may include tax and fee relief. The South African government has indicated to me that it intends to increase these aviation fees. , but due to the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, it has decided to suspend such implementation of higher burdens and will not review it until next year, ”Alawadhi said.

“We had some concerns about aviation in South Africa given the period of unrest. The SA aviation industry generated over $ 9 billion in 2019 – about 3.2% of the country’s GDP – which was huge for an economy the size of SA. Now it’s down to around $ 3 billion. At the same time, I am relatively certain that South African aviation is heading in the right direction. “

Alawadhi is positive about the potential of using the IATA Travel Pass to help open borders to and from South Africa.

“The airlines and the South African government have assured me that they are moving towards a travel pass and we look forward to receiving positive news on this soon,” he said.

Pan-African Air Group

Asked about South African Airways (SAA) long-term goal of considering creating some kind of Pan-African air group, Alawadhi said SAA had just restarted and with a clean slate.

SAA and Kenya Airways announced earlier this week that they are signing a memorandum of cooperation and that a Pan-African airline group could ultimately “enhance the potential for mutual growth by leveraging the strengths of the two airlines’ busy hubs “. However, the agreement does not prevent any of the airlines from pursuing commercial cooperation with other carriers as part of their route network strategy.

“SAA is starting operations cautiously so as not to overspend money with the current anemic demand for air traffic. Entering into some form of agreement with Kenya Airways could bring benefits to both airlines. This type of arrangement is quite common to open up destinations and gain market share, ”Alawadhi said.

Another issue of importance to Alawadhi is interconnectivity on the African continent moving forward with the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM). The intention of SAATM is to remove restrictions on bilateral agreements between African states and to promote competition.

“We want to bring the 55 African states together around a table to discuss their concerns. Moving forward with SAATM requires the participation of at least five stakeholders per country, including ministries of transport and major airlines. We hope to do so maybe in the first quarter of 2022, but are also aiming for a first meeting in early December, “he said.

“If you liberalize airspace in Africa through formal agreements like there are in the EU, the only restrictions for airlines will be whether an airport can handle the traffic. This should strengthen connectivity on the continent, simplify air travel and reduce costs.


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