IATA Urges South Africa’s New Government to Prioritize Aviation Development

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called upon South Africa’s newly formed Government of National Unity to maintain a strong focus on advancing the aviation sector. IATA emphasized the sector’s vital role in fostering economic growth and creating employment opportunities.

“South Africa’s aviation industry is poised for significant growth over the next 20 years, with projections of 345 million additional passenger journeys by 2043. For every $1 spent on aviation, $6 is generated in economic activity. This expansion is expected to inject billions into South Africa’s GDP and create thousands of new jobs,” said Kamil Alawadhi, IATA’s regional vice president for Africa and the Middle East.

Alawadhi highlighted the importance of strategic focus by the new government. “The economic and social benefits of aviation will be maximized with policies aimed at keeping costs low, ensuring sufficient capacity for growth, monitoring the cost-effectiveness of regulations, and achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050,” he said.

These priorities are being addressed at IATA’s Wings of Change Focus Africa Conference (WOCFA) currently taking place in Johannesburg. The conference has brought together industry leaders, government representatives, and aviation safety and training entities to identify concrete actions to strengthen aviation in Africa and optimize it for sustained economic growth.

IATA specifically urged the new government to focus on the following areas:

Infrastructure Costs: Continuous consultation between Airports Corporation South Africa (Acsa), Air Traffic Navigation Services (ATNS), and their airline customers is essential. This consultation must ensure that services provided are aligned with airline needs, efficient, and cost-effective.

Safety Leadership: South Africa should maintain its leadership role in southern Africa on safety, particularly in implementing ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices. The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has already demonstrated leadership by recognizing the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) as a compliance means aligned with South Africa’s aviation safety regulations.

Skills Development: The government should continue to develop world-class skills to support the aviation sector. A recent training agreement between IATA and ATNS exemplifies cooperation that positions South Africa’s aviation sector to expand connectivity while creating quality jobs.

Sustainability: Policies supporting aviation’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 are crucial. This goal is shared with governments globally.

“This agenda is a win-win for the new government—facilitating trade, encouraging investment, and addressing unemployment. Although South Africa’s aviation sector has faced challenges in recent years, aviation remains a critical enabler for economic growth and prosperity,” said Alawadhi. “If the new government focuses on safety, sustainability, skills development, and costs, it will chart a course to renewed strength in aviation, positively impacting the economy.”

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