George – South Africa's new visa regulations are having an adverse impact on the country's tourism industry without proof that they are making any impact on child trafficking, according to Hussein Dabbas, International Air Traffic Association (Iata) regional vice-president for the Middle East and Africa.
“Of course it is right for the South African government to look at greater security on its borders and (measures) against child trafficking, but without doing it in such a way that it impacts tourism,” Dabbas said at the opening of the 45th annual general assembly of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (Aasa) taking place in George this week.
“Partnerships are vital for aviation in Africa going forward and the industry and governments must work together in this regard. Governments must also consult with users in the aviation industry before investing in infrastructure, so that it could be used better and cost less in the end."
He pointed out that more than 3.5 billion people fly globally each year and a third of global trade is done via airways. The industry is also responsible for the creation of about 58 million jobs worldwide, including related tourism jobs.
Dabbas said the success of the aviation industry rests on three pillars: safety, sustainability and profitability. Of these, profitability has historically been the weakest.
“The profit of the entire aviation industry in a year is about what Apple makes in six months,” said Dabbas.
While the average global air fare is about $205 and the net profit about $8.27 per passenger, among African airlines net profit is only about $1.59 per passenger.
“All it would, therefore, take to hit African airlines negatively would be one incident on the continent,” explained Dabbas.
“Tough decisions must be taken in Africa’s aviation industry to improve safety and regulations. Safety must always be the most important priority.”
The current ratio in African aviation is about 11.8 incidents for every million flights, while only 14 African states actually comply with 60% of international aviation standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
“Iata is, therefore, ready to assist governments in Africa to address challenges in aviation, because the future prosperity of the continent depends on aviation,” he concluded.* Carin Smith is a guest of Aasa at its AGM.