SA aviation revenue will drop by R55-billion this year

Revenues generated by airlines in the South African market will fall by about R55-billion in 2020, 56% below 2019 levels, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has predicted.


It says this puts at risk 252 100 jobs in the country, and jeopardises about R93-billion of South Africa's GDP generated directly by aviation and by tourism that depends on air transportation.


In a joint statement with the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) and the Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa (BARSA), the Canadian-based organisation representing around 290 airlines worldwide, calls on the government to provide specific financial relief to the aviation sector to address the severe impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

SA authorities have given welcome support


The three bodies acknowledge that the South African authorities have provided welcome support for air transport by temporarily suspending airport slot-use rules and extending the validity of personnel licenses and certifications.


However, urgent financial support from the government is needed now to keep the sector alive and ensure that its air transport system emerges fit and capable of fulfilling a crucial role as a primary economic enabler and job creator, they say.

Aviation is an enabler of economic wealth


"Aviation is vital for connecting markets and moving people and goods between them. It is not an indulgence of the rich, but an enabler of economic wealth for everyone," said Muhammad Albakri, IATA's Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East.


"Without a viable air transport sector, recovery will be drawn out and painful. South Africa's economy had already slowed before the crisis, with unemployment at record levels. Fully supporting aviation now is critical if the economy is to expand at a pace that will make a positive difference to its citizens' lives."

Variety of aviation-specific relief instruments


The statement says aviation-specific relief instruments at the government's disposal include direct financial support to passenger and cargo carriers; financial relief on airport and air traffic control charges and taxes; plus reductions, waivers and deferrals of statutory taxes and user-fees imposed on flights and passenger tickets.


"It is essential that urgent action is taken now to support airlines and the industry as a whole in these difficult times," noted Zuks Ramasia, CEO of BARSA.


"We all need to work together to minimise the impact by creating a platform for recovery from the unprecedented damage being inflicted on international air carriers, including South African airlines. Acting too slowly would result in the post-pandemic economic recovery being seriously impeded by the reduced availability of air transport for both passengers and cargo."