L        Events / AASA AGA 2020 / Press & Media

Where: Online via Zoom
When: 8 October 2020 
Time: 12h00 - 15h00 (SAST) / 10h00 - 13h00 (UTC)


Unnecessary restrictions and lack of support for air transport industry will prolong Southern Africa's economic recovery 

AASA news release 

  • Air travel can be safe without arbitrary prohibitions on travellers from classified countries
  • Jobs and Southern Africa’s economic recovery are in jeopardy
  • Survival and recovery requires governments and industry to engage directly at highest levels

October 8, 2020. Johannesburg – Southern Africa’s economic recovery and future growth, along with nearly five million jobs in the region are in jeopardy as a result of the continued imposition of inconsistent and arbitrary restrictions on air travel, warns the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA).

    At the same time, AASA called for the region’s governments to prioritise support for their entire air transport and tourism industries, including private and public sector airlines, airports, air navigation services, ground handlers, safety regulators, suppliers 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. Governments can and must provide support to the entire industry as the recovery of their economies is heavily dependent upon it,” explained AASA CEO, Chris Zweigenthal, who was addressing the body’s virtual 50th annual general meeting today.  

    Support could be provided through cash infusions, government-backed loans and through relief mechanisms such as waivers and reductions on taxes and charges. 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.

    “We welcomed the re-opening of South Africa’s borders last week, but there needs to be clarity on the risk classification of states by which leisure travellers are either approved or denied entry. The South African government should explain why it has superimposed these additional restrictions onto the set of risk-mitigating health and safety protocols it had already developed and approved for the safe re-opening of the borders. It should also explain its criteria for reducing, or better still, scrapping these lists and lifting the ban on tourists from certain countries. If they are maintained, our industry and the entire regional economy will face a much slower and arduous recovery,” said Mr Zweigenthal.

    “The crisis calls for direct engagement between industry and government Directors-Generals and Ministers, on an open door and open mind basis. This is essential if we are to address strategic, policy and practical issues that will ensure the safe restart of airline operations and the region’s economic recovery, without compromising public health and safety,” he added. 

Impact on air transport and its economic contribution









Economic contribution at risk

$1.8tn (51%)

$37bn (58%)

$4.7bn (51%)

Jobs at risk (aviation related)

46m (52%)

5.0m (58%)

270,000 (57%)

Jobs at risk (aviation direct)

4.8m (42%)

172,000 (39%)

40,000 (57%)

Airline profitability

-$85.3bn vs $28.3bn

-$2bn vs $200m

-$1bn vs $200m





 [References : IATA Economics, ATAG]

“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,” said Mr Zweigenthal. Download this news release [pdf].

Media queries:

Linden Birns – Plane Talking – PR & Media Relations Advisor to AASA

Mob: +27 82 568 8031    /    Tel: +27 21 785 5610    /    Email: linden@icon.co.za

Financial aid, COVID-19 testing key to aviation’s survival in Southern Africa 

IATA news release 

October 8, 2020. Johannesburg – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) 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: 

  1. Ensuring urgent government relief is provided to the air transport industry and that pledged funds from international and pan-African organizations reach those in need.
  2. Accelerating the restart of aviation by replacing quarantines with testing.

Relief Measures

Airline revenues from Southern African countries are forecast to decline by 60% in 2020 and the number of passengers to fall by 58%. 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 US$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 recognize that these organizations 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.

Replacing Quarantine with Testing to Restart Aviation in Southern Africa

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.

    While many of the countries in Southern Africa are re-opening their borders to regional and international air travel, in Rwanda, Seychelles and Namibia passengers are still subject to a mandatory quarantine. These measures effectively stop people from travelling. IATA is calling for the systematic testing of passengers before departure without the need for quarantine on arrival. This will enable governments to safely open borders while balancing social and economic considerations and will better support recovery efforts.

    “If we cannot restart the air transport system in a coordinated, efficient and consistent fashion, we will not be able to restore the much-desired confidence that would see the return of demand across the entire travel and tourism value chain. This will result in many more livelihoods being lost and further economic decline along with hardship and poverty,” said Mikosz. Download this news release [pdf]. 

For more information, please contact: Corporate Communications

Tel: +41 22 770 2967     /    Email: corpcomms@iata.org

Notes for editors: IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 290 airlines comprising 82% of global air traffic. You can follow us at https://twitter.com/iata for announcements, policy positions, and other useful industry information.