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Special Report - Southern Africa

Special Report - Southern Africa

Aviation issues in southern Africa are being exacerbated by the FIFA World Cup

From 11 June to 11 July 2010, nine cities in South Africa will host the FIFA World Cup. Aviation will be crucial to its success.

Not only will long-haul operations bring about 350,000 visitors to the southern tip of Africa but domestic services will also be needed to cover the 1,000-plus miles between host cities.

Aviation’s pre-eminence has brought to the fore the many regional challenges for the industry. Infrastructure charges and liberalization, as well as key industry topics such as safety, security and the environment, will all come under the microscope.

The hottest topic is a proposed 130% increase in charges at Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) airports by the South African Regulating Committee. Although this is less than ACSA’s request for a 241% boost over a five-year period, the hikes are still enormous. They are principally a result of the many upgrades undertaken by ACSA in preparation for the World Cup, most notably the new airport in Durban.

“The charge increases are totally unacceptable,” says Jeff Poole, IATA Director, Industry Charges, Fuel and Taxation. “IATA is very concerned that the proposed increases might allow inefficiencies and scope changes that ACSA has built in during recent years.”

IATA also has concerns over the charge proposals presented by ATNS, the air navigation service provider. “As an industry, we cannot accept a situation where airports or ANSPs are rewarded for inefficiency,” says Poole. “Given the unprecedented industry crisis, it is impossible for airlines to comprehend the proposed charge increases both for ACSA and ATNS.”

Liberalization has also taken center stage. Studies of 12 countries around the world have shown that liberalization of air services can boost GDP by an average of 1%. However, too many African governments have followed policies on air transport that fail to take advantage of this. For example, the Yamoussoukro Decision—which promises to open up intra- Africa air services—is all but dead in the water.

Some liberal bilateral agreements are providing a degree of hope. And there are encouraging developments in regional initiatives, especially in West and East Africa. The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries are following suit and have agreed to liberalize the regulatory framework governing traffic between their airports. Namibia, Zambia and South Africa are already moving ahead, with Air Namibia now operating services between Lusaka and Johannesburg.

“Africa made a great start with the Yamoussoukro idea,” says Giovanni Bisignani, IATA Director General and CEO. “But it did not move from idea to reality, so we are looking for regional liberalization within Africa. The recent SADC agreement to liberalize services is a good start.

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