After a delay of 12 months, South Africa finally has new air services councils appointed by the minister of transport.
Under SA legislation, the International Air Services Council and its domestic counterpart, the Air Services Licencing Council, are required to consider applications and award or withdraw licences granted to locally based airlines and operators of other commercial aviation services.
To be eligible for air traffic rights, an airline must have an air services licence, which must be used within 12 months of allocation and not interrupted for more than three months, failing which the council must rescind it. Once traffic rights are rescinded, they become available for re-allocation to another airline applicant.
Both councils had become defunct in April 2021 when the terms of the previous councillors ended. In the absence of the councils, the unused traffic rights could neither be rescinded nor re-allocated.
"While we congratulate Cabinet on confirming the appointments of the new councillors, there is much work to be done and no time to rest. The absence of functioning councils for almost a year held back SA's airlines and prevented them from providing the economic and social benefits that air connectivity provides by facilitating trade, tourism and travel," Aaron Munetsi, CEO of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) said in a statement on Thursday.