The announcement that the South African government had appointed new air services councils was welcomed by the local commercial aviation sector on Thursday. There were two such councils, the International Air Services Council and the (domestic) Air Services Licensing Council.
These councils were responsible for considering applications for, and awarding (or withdrawing) the licences to operate which were required by South African airlines and other commercial aviation services operators. The previous councils had ceased to exist in April last year, when the terms of office of their councillors had expired.
“While we congratulate Cabinet on confirming the appointments of the new councillors, there is much work to be done and no time to rest,” affirmed Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) CEO Aaron Munetsi. “The absence of functioning councils for almost a year held back South Africa’s airlines and prevented them from providing the economic and social benefits that air connectivity provides by facilitating trade, tourism and travel. The councils’ resumption will be a great relief for South Africa’s travel and tourism sector as it seeks to rebuild following the Covid-19 pandemic and associated restrictions.”
AASA represented the majority of airlines within the Southern African Development Community. The association had been working quietly to get the South African government to recreate the two councils.
AASA member airline Airlink also issued a response to the appointment of the new councils. (Airlink is a South African regionally- and domestically-focused private sector airline.)
“Airlink cautiously welcomes the appointment of the new councils,” said company CEO and MD Rodger Foster. “Now that the new councillors have been confirmed, it is important that they are able to start moving quickly. What is important is for the councils to swiftly adjudicate applications and make available route licences currently held by entities no longer in business or that are unable to provide the necessary services, so that Airlink and South African-based airlines can compete with foreign carriers, enhance connectivity and help to grow our economy and create new jobs.”