Sydney – There is still a huge focus on security in the airline industry, but the continuous monitoring it involves comes at a huge cost to airlines and raises the issue of the role of governments in covering costs, Chris Zweigenthal, CEO of the Airline Association of Southern Africa (AASA) told Fin24 on Tuesday.
“The issue is where do governments come in as part of its responsibility for national security. The question is how much of the cost for security governments should bear, because airport costs for security processes will get passed on to passengers,” he told Fin24 at the 74th annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Sydney.
“There should be more of a shared responsibility of security costs between the aviation industry and governments. My view has always been that you have to assess the level of risk posed. Make sure the industry does not go against national security, but implement measures appropriate for the level of risk posed.”
Environment and technology
Another important matter raised by Zweigenthal is the environmental issue facing the aviation industry.
“We are working with and encouraging airlines to ensure they are ready for the emissions reporting requirements that will start from January 1, 2019,” he said.
Zweigenthal believes it is important for African airlines to keep up with the use of technology in the aviation industry. This includes the proposed use of “one ID” and baggage tags that can track luggage throughout a journey.
AASA is, for instance, working closely with Airports Company SA (ACSA) on such a baggage tracking idea, but cost is a big inhibitor.
One of the prominent issues at this year’s IATA annual general meeting was the organisation’s study which found privatising airports is not necessarily the answer.
Zweigenthal found discussions around this at the AGM very interesting. He said in South Africa it is really only Lanseria airport which is in private hands and competing with OR Tambo International Airport.
Competition is always valuable, but there is a case to be made for good regulation of private airports especially if they are in a monopoly situation, which Lanseria, for instance, is not, he said.
According to Zweigenthal, the African aviation industry sits in a kind of limbo with some airlines doing well and others not.
The load factor is one of the challenges for African airlines.
“Our market share is just so small in Africa, so within the continent there is the potential for airlines to cooperate to have regional blocs of airlines,” he said.
AASA supports gender transformation in the aviation industry, which was a prominent topic at the IATA AGM.
“The IATA AGM is always good from a networking perspective. The industry still finds Africa an interesting continent, but with challenges. We all value our relationship with IATA and its relationship with governments.
"It will be good for the aviation industry to work more closely with governments to solve problems and not work against each other,” he said.
*Fin24 is a guest of Iata at its AGM.