October 13, 2020: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has outlined the key priorities to ensure the long-term sustainability of aviation in Southern Africa as the industry continues to suffer from the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated travel restrictions.

Airline revenues from Southern African countries are forecast to decline by 60 percent in 2020 and the number of passengers to fall by 58 percent. Four airlines in the region have entered administration since the crisis began. Without urgent government relief, more carriers and their employees are at risk, as is the wider African air transport industry, which supports 7.7 million jobs on the continent.

“Air transport and the industries it supports provide millions of jobs and millions of US dollars in economic activity in Southern Africa. It is crucial that this sector gets the help it needs to survive and be able to sustain a recovery. To date, South Africa is the only country in Southern Africa that has committed to providing direct financial support to aviation,” said Sebastian Mikosz, IATA’s senior vice president, member and external relations.

Addressing the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) 2020 virtual annual general meeting, Mikosz noted that over $30 billion in financial support for air transport and tourism has been pledged by international finance bodies and other institutions, including the African Development Bank, African Export Import Bank, African Union and the International Monetary Fund. However, far too little of it has reached its intended recipients owing to overly complex application and creditworthiness processes, and conditions to secure finance.

“We recognise that these organisations have a responsibility to ensure this aid is well spent. Nevertheless, financial bottlenecks need to be urgently unblocked so that the money can flow quickly and reach intended participants to prevent more airline closures and job losses,” said Mikosz.

Mikosz also urged governments and health authorities in the region to cooperate to replace quarantine restrictions — which are stifling demand for travel and inflicting further damage on air transport and tourism businesses — with Covid-19 testing to restart air travel safely.

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