Positive Steps to Drive Jobs and Economic Stimulus
The prospects for Southern Africa’s economic recovery and future growth, along with securing millions of jobs in the region, received a welcome boost on 11 November 2020, with President Ramaphosa’s re-opening of South Africa to all international tourists. But we are not out of the woods yet.
The decision marks the culmination of an intensive effort by industry, led by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, AASA and partner bodies, to persuade the South African government it could safely resume international air travel without compromising its efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Under the relaxed restrictions, tourists from all nations may visit South Africa as long as they present valid COVID-19 test certificates.
AASA welcomes this positive step forward and urges all other SADC countries that have also reopened their borders to harmonise the implementation of the ICAO Council’s Aviation Recovery Task Force’s (CART) guidance for the safe resumption of air travel and tourism. These measures and standards were prepared in conjunction with the World Health Organisation. They are designed to be adopted systematically worldwide to eliminate inconsistencies and the need for arbitrary measures such as quarantines and the discrimination of travellers according to meaningless lists of countries classified by risk.
States that still classify countries into risk profiled lists should scrap them. Tourists will be reluctant to travel with the risk that their country of origin may suddenly be placed on a restrictive or banning list. All that is required is for testing and screening prior to departure and the diligent application of layered biosecurity and basic hygiene measures including wearing masks, sanitising and social distancing.
Crucially, their harmonised implementation will also avert confusion which deter travel and will hamper economic recovery.
More than ever, consistency and certainty are needed to restore confidence in air transport. This crisis of confidence is the biggest challenge facing our industry’s survival and the region’s entire air transport and tourism eco-system, including public and private airlines, airports, air navigation services, ground handlers, safety regulators and allied businesses. Not a single aviation industry stakeholder has been spared. Every organisation relying on revenue for airline operations and passengers is affected, with traumatic social and financial consequences.
Saving the industry – and securing its vital socio-economic contribution - requires close cooperation and ongoing short-term emergency relief by governments.
Emergency relief could be provided to both public and private organisations through cash infusions, government-backed loans and through relief mechanisms such as waivers and reductions on taxes and charges. If state-owned enterprises are provided support, some of this should be filtered through into relief on taxes and charges which airlines and passengers have to pay. Governments could also safely prevent prolonging the economic harm and distress by adopting clear and consistent measures for the safe resumption of regional and international travel in all categories.
The crisis calls for direct engagement between industry and government Directors-Generals and Ministers, on an open door and open mind basis. We are pleased that such engagements are now taking place in South Africa. This is essential if we are to address strategic, policy and practical issues that will ensure the ongoing safe restart of airline operations and the region’s economic recovery, without compromising public health and safety.
While governments must assist communities and other enterprises that are also desperate for financial relief, they should not ignore the vital role that aviation, travel and tourism will play in driving Southern Africa’s economic recovery through the jobs they create - directly and indirectly - and the millions of people whose livelihoods are dependent upon it.
While governments must assist communities and other enterprises that are also desperate for financial relief, they should not ignore the vital role that aviation, travel and tourism will play in driving Southern Africa’s economic recovery through the jobs they create - directly and indirectly - and the millions of people whose livelihoods are dependent upon them. Chris Zweigenthal, AASA CEO
South African Tourism promotes the country locally and globally for leisure, business or events.
The organisation promotes the sustainable economic and social empowerment of all South Africans, and is committed to meaningfully contributing to the government’s objectives of increased GDP growth, sustainable job creation, and redistribution and transformation of the industry.
Royal Eswatini National Airways Corporation (RENAC) operates air transport undertakings for the carriage of passengers, goods and freight of all descriptions within the Kingdom of Eswatini and elsewhere.
RENAC is actively involved and operates the following business units: a travel agency, air charter operations, a brokerage service for air charters, airport ground handling services and jet fuel supply.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic and the socio-economic crisis it triggered, AASA
has been continually lobbying policy-shapers, lawmakers and regulators to consider the
impact of any COVID-19 responses on Southern Africa’s financially fragile air transport
eco-system, without which the region’s economic recovery will be almost impossible.
As a strong and vocal advocate for the industry, AASA has been encouraging governments and other stakeholders to invoke considered measures that slow the virus’s spread, with the least harm to air transport, tourism and their allied sectors, which are crucial to their economic sustainability and growth.
While the preservation of life is the top
priority, now that the ICAO Council’s
Aviation Recovery Task Force’s (CART)
recommended set of practical and effective
biosecurity measures and protocols
are available, we will continue to press
transport authorities throughout SADC to
adopt them. This will enable governments
to safely re-open borders so that domestic,
regional and long-haul air travel can resume
Demonstrating the integrity and efficacy of the system will promote the customer confidence needed to reignite travel and tourism. What we cannot afford is a patchwork blanket of inconsistent and unique measures and standards for each country as this breeds confusion, uncertainty and deters travel.
COVID-19 impact on South Africa’s airlines and financial aid request
On the 4th August 2020, AASA submitted a
request to South Africa’s Transport minister
and other Cabinet members appealing to
them to alleviate some of the financial
pressures faced by all of the country’s
airlines as a result of the pandemic and the
Government-imposed restrictions on air
travel and tourism.
Travel and Tourism
In order to boost the aviation economy,
AASA maintains close strategic links
with its partners in the tourism sector. It
provides support to the Tourism Business
Council of South Africa (TBCSA) and
works with it to ensure that aviation and
tourism are aligned and deliver consistent
messaging through their respective and
As a result of this relationship, AASA has
been able to engage with key players in
the tourism sector by participating in the
“Stronger Together - Tourism Reopening”
webinar and National Tourism Stakeholder
forum. AASA is also participating in the
joint South Africa is Travel Ready campaign
alongside ACSA, IATA and BARSA.
The news media, online events and social media platforms are key channels AASA utilises to advance its advocacy messages to a range of stakeholder audiences, including government policy-makers, legislators, regulatory bodies, public health authorities, the business and financial community as well as industry suppliers, partners and, of course, our Members.
Over the past quarter, AASA’s views and messaging on behalf of its members and the industry has continued to feature in print, online and broadcast media reports, while AASA’s CEO and deputy have addressed several online events.
Click here to see an overview of 2020 notable events and coverage to date.
Every country in the region is moving at its own pace to re-open borders to air travel and, despite calls for the harmonised adoption of a single set of biosecurity measures and standards, are imposing their own unique restrictions. Please click on the country web link for travel requirement information for each SADC member nation:
|Country||Status & Travel Requirements|
|Angola||• Negative COVID-19 PCR test 72 Hours before departure.
• Yellow Fever card required.
• Passengers permitted into the country subject to approval.
|Botswana||• Private tourist air charters permitted to Maun and Kasane.
• International airports to reopen wef 1 November 2020.
|Democratic Republic of Congo||• Negative COVID-19 PCR test 72 hours before departure.
• International and internal borders reopened in August.
|Kingdom of Eswatini||• Negative COVID-19 PCR test 72 hours before departure.
• Borders re-opened in October.
|Madagascar||• International flights to Nosy Be are permitted, but other airports remain
closed to international passengers.
• State of Health Emergency lifted on 18 October 2020.
|Mauritius||• A certificate of a negative COVID – 19 PCR test administered between 5 and 7 days prior to the date of boarding at the last point of embarkation.
• Borders closed until 30 November 2020.
• Air Mauritius operates limited service on selected routes and directions
|Mozambique||• No Need for quarantine if at entry a Negative PCR Covid-19 test is shown.
• Tourist visas are re-instated as per pre-covid rules.
• Most rules will be relaxed based on bilateral reciprocity.
|Namibia||• Negative COVID-19 PCR test 72 hours before departure.|
|Reunion Island||• Negative COVID-19 PCR test 72 hours before departure for all travellers over
the age of 11 years.
• Certified document affirming no COVID-19 symptoms and that traveller has not been in contact with anyone confirmed positive in the past 14 days.
|Seychelles||• Seychelles International Airport open for scheduled commercial flights.
• Entry permitted only for travellers from approved countries.
|South Africa||• Open to international flights as of 11 November 2020.
• Proof of negative PCR-based COVID-19 test in their country of origin within 72 hours of departure.
|Tanzania||• Proof of negative PCR-based COVID-19 test in country of origin within 72
hours of departure.|
|Zambia||• Tourist and Business visit visas available in advance and on arrival.
• Proof of negative COVID-19 test in the 14 days before arrival.
|Zimbabwe||• International flights permitted.
• Negative COVID-19 test no more than 48 hours before departure.
1 Additional health and safety protocols may be applicable in certain countries. Screening, COVID-19 testing and quarantining may also apply.
2 To the best of AASA’s knowledge, the information on this page – some of which was provided by third party agencies - was correct on 10 November 2020. AASA cannot be held liable for any inaccuracies as each country’s regulations and requirements may change at any time without notice. Best is to check with each country’s authorities or IATA’s Timatic for subsequently updated information.
The outlook for Africa’s air transport industry has worsened sharply according to IATA’s revised forecast released in October 2020. The global trade body says full year 2020 passenger numbers will only reach 30% of 2019 levels. This is down significantly on the 45% it projected in July. This translates to around 45 million passengers this year compared with 155 million in 2019. IATA says demand in 2021 will improve to 45% of 2019 levels or nearly 70 million passengers. It does not see a full return to 2019 levels before late 2023.
On 1 October air transport in South Africa took a step forward when the country re-opened its skies for scheduled international passenger flights. It was immediately forced to take several steps backwards when the Government introduced a set of new travel regulations. They include fornightly-reviewed country risk classification lists against which travellers could be admitted entry including test requirements. These have introduced unnecessary complexity and confusion, which are deterring travel.
Most Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries have begun re-opening their airports for international travel on a restricted basis. See our Regional Travel Barometer above.
Just like their airline partners, airports and other aviation infrastructure service providers are also feeling the financial pain of the plethora of travel restrictions and the global crisis of confidence in air travel. Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) does not expect passenger volumes to recover to pre-lockdown levels until 2024. ACSA has slashed its capital expenditure to around R1 billion per annum for the next five years. ACSA aims to raise liquidity by selling its investments in Brazil and India.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warns that sub-Saharan Africa’s combined economy will contract by an unprecedented 3.0% this year before recovering “modestly to 3.1%” in 2021. It points to uncertainty around COVID-19’s path, the resilience of the region’s health systems together with uncertainty on the availability of external financing for around US$900 billion it estimates is required by the region. It says the region’s fortunes will also be shaped by “transformative domestic reforms, the ability to lift medium-term growth, create jobs and progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”.
The African Union (AU) intends to conduct a new econometric study on the projected benefits of its flagship Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) initiative for those of its member nations that have either not yet signed the “solemn declaration” or that have begun passing enabling legislation that would allow them to participate in it.
SAATM will promote intra-African connectivity by establishing a single unified air transport market. It is one of the key pillars of the wider Africa Continental Free Trade Area programme.
The AU recently issued a tender for the research and a parallel advocacy communications campaign. To-date 33 of the AU’s 55 members have signed in principle, only Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Ghana, Mozambique, Niger, Congo, Rwanda, The Gambia and Togo have fully implemented concrete measures.
Aircraft manufacturers continue to trim costs and slow production tempos in a bid to preserve cash against a backdrop of the pandemic-triggered relative drought in new orders. Airbus reports 300 net orders for the first nine months of 2020 and a 40% reduction in deliveries year-on-year. Boeing’s results over the same period were also compounded by the ongoing 737 MAX grounding. Its deliveries were down 67% on Jan-Sep 2019 while it reported a net loss of 381 orders YTD. Embraer delivered 16 commercial aircraft over the same timeframe, in line with the 75% reduction it recorded in H1 2020 compared to the same period last year. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has paused development of its SpaceJet M90 airliner as part of its revised business plan. It was due to commence development flight tests on the 88-seat aircraft. It has also shelved further work on its smaller M100. Meanwhile, De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd, which last year acquired the Dash 8-400 regional aircraft programme, has continued to maintain its output tempo, including new deliveries to Sub-Saharan operators.
Southern Africa’s major European travel markets imposed renewed lockdowns and travel restrictions during the last week of October as a second wave of the Coronavirus surged through a number of metropoles. The vast majority of countries are declaring more cases each day now than they were during the first wave earlier this year. Germany, France and the Czech Republic have commenced new 4-week national lockdowns, while the Republic of Ireland has imposed a 6-week lockdown. Italy, Spain, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all began imposing their own sets of restrictions during October.
Oil prices are set for their largest monthly decline since March as tightened COVID-related restrictions are expected to weaken demand for auto and aviation fuel. Bloomberg reports oil futures fell by 2.3% on 30 October and by about 12% for the month. It said a record surge in daily coronavirus infections in the US and travel restrictions across Europe had clouded hopes for a demand rebound. IATA’s Jet Fuel Price Index shows a US$70 per barrel fall in the average price of Jet-A1 from March 2020 US$85 high to April US$15 low. It has fluctuated between US$40 - US$45 a barrel since mid-July.
While airlines in Africa, the Gulf, Europe and the Americas battle for survival, China’s domestic market has rebounded with China Southern Airlines reporting quarterly profits. According to Reuters, the carrier, which has the country’s largest domestic network and is currently ranked the world’s largest airline, posted a US$106 million net profit after a US$421 million net loss in Q2.
Airlines, plane-makers and public health researchers recently released findings of new research which shows the risk of
COVID-19 infection onboard a commercial flight was remote, with air travel safer than grocery shopping. A new Harvard University study used computer modelling to review cabin airflow in aircraft. It found that the specialised ventilation systems filter out 99% of airborne viruses and harmful particulates. Harvard said although the study was funded by industry, this did not impact on its findings. As additional protection, the study recommends the wearing of face masks and disinfection.
Environment: The New, New Frontier
While the COVID-19 crisis rages and aviation engages in a fight for its continued existence, it is tempting to drop everything and focus only on short term survival - because if you cannot survive, why have a long-term strategy?
Some airlines have decided to do both.
Video conferencing, online meetings and other innovative and disruptive technologies are eroding airlines’ traditional customer base. There is very little aviation can do about it. It means dramatically less high-yielding customers.
Another strong narrative emerging from this crisis speaks to the positive environmental effects of travel bans. They include the significant drop in emissions, cleaner skies and rivers, less consumption and greater harmony with our planet’s natural systems. This view resonates strongly with the emerging younger and environmentally “woke” market who are sensitive to the consequences of their choices and actions.
The traditional airline customer profile is changing as older and wealthier people curtail travelling due to their COVID-19 risk profile while younger travellers want options that do minimal harm to the environment. This same emerging generation is driving corporates to green their supply chains, including their travel options.
Other factors to consider are the litany of carbon taxes, offset schemes, country commitments to reduce emissions - which creates pipelines of legislation to curb emissions and the persistent misuse of aviation for illegal wildlife trade.
This all points to a future air transport industry where one’s environmental credentials are a key factor in customers’ decision-making (along with price and convenience). My message to AASA members is to use this hiatus to prepare your environmental strategies, implement your changes and ensure that you have future-proofed your business.
The environmental landscape is filled with a multitude of confusing options (and opportunistic charlatans) but the few options below are credible, reliable and will help you to chart your environmental responses.
1. IATA Environmental Assessment (IEnvA)
This is a voluntary evaluation programme to independently assess and improve airlines’ environmental management systems and compliance, much like the IOSA for safety. It helps airlines be seen as responsible organisations by ensuring they are doing the right things to combat climate change.
IEnvA is increasingly being accepted as the de facto aviation standard for environmental compliance by companies throughout the world.
2. United for Wildlife
This is an initiative of the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. By signing The Buckingham Palace Declaration, transport companies commit to fight illegal wildlife trade. AASA and several other members have signed the Declaration.
United for Wildlife’s transport taskforce connects all role-players in a network that works seamlessly, through a multitude of ‘pinch points’, to stop the transport of any illegal wildlife or illegal wildlife products. It also provides access to free training, programmes and resources.
3. IATA Voluntary Carbon Offset Programme
This is a reliable and easy-to-use programme that is integrated into existing airline payment processes and does not require navigating to other pay websites.
If you would like further information or would like to discuss any element of your airline’s environment programme, please contact Ian Cruickshank.
Public Health, Animal Smuggling,and Air Transport
The potential links between unregulated and/or illegal trade in animals and public health risks have become clear in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Animal smuggling presents a risk of zoonotic disease transfer as the animals are often carried in unsanitary and stressful conditions before they come into contact with humans.
As our world becomes more connected, air transport companies must play a key role to mitigate the risk of future pandemics by strengthening efforts that combat animal smuggling. This includes integrating anti-wildlife trafficking training into their operations, strengthening policies and raising awareness. To aid in these efforts, USAID’s Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) Partnership recently released the report, Animal Smuggling in Air Transport and Preventing Zoonotic Spillover.
It has an interactive data platform, the ROUTES Dashboard. These resources detail wildlife trafficking trends and routes, explain methods for identifying high-zoonotic risk trafficking and provide counter-wildlife trafficking recommendations.
The programme, which supports high school learners and tertiary education students, launched its online “Rooivalk” WhatsApp-based distance learning portal for participants to access learning material, join webinars and other online activities that have replaced airshows, youth festivals, schools meetings and site visits which have been cancelled as a result of COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings and events.
Education material is updated weekly and includes various topics, e.g. drone, helicopter and radio-controlled aircraft technology, and air force history. Users are incentivised with online competitions. Prizes include scholarship and internships as well as mobile data packages.
In addition, WoA’s sponsors, the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT) Foundation and FindMino respectively funded the development of a recruitment database and a career guidance platform for the programme’s participants.
Despite the crisis-triggered setback for airline jobs, participants continued to focus on furthering their education and developing new skills.
Despite the curtailments on in-person events and meetings, WoA, was able to facilitate a sustained online speakers programme in conjunction with the Aeronautical Society of Southern Africa (AESSA), which has embraced WoA’s participants and invites its annual award winners to join its ongoing series of topical monthly talks.
During the past year WoA, with ISTAT’s support, has worked with around 300 learners and students in the 11 Southern African countries represented by AASA’s members.
WoA values your continued support and appeals to AASA members to increase their involvement and contribution. Contact details for the WoA facilitators are available here.