SA has eventually got new air services councils – and now needs to clear a 12-month backlog

Business Insider SA
South Africa International Air Services Licensing
(Getty Images)
  • South Africa's been without an International Air Services Licensing Council since March 2021.
  • This council is responsible for awarding or revoking traffic rights to airlines in South Africa.
  • New appointments to the council were eventually confirmed in a Cabinet statement on Thursday.
  • The council will now have to work through a 12-month-long backlog of applications for new routes.
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South Africa has finally appointed a new International Air Services Licensing Council (IASLC), a year after the last board was disbanded.

South Africa's IASLC is responsible for awarding or revoking traffic rights to airlines based in South Africa. Council members are chosen by the department of transport to complete a three-year term. But since March 2021, no IASLC has existed, with the department delaying the appointment of new members.

This, in turn, has made it impossible for local carriers to acquire new international routes or flight frequencies. These delays have been heavily criticised by airline associations and domestic carriers alike.

After a year's wait, new appointments to the IASLC, and its domestic counterpart, the Air Services Licensing Council, were announced in a Cabinet statement on Thursday morning. This comes three months after the department of transport first gazetted a shortlist of candidates nominated to serve on the councils.

The new IASLC, to serve until 2025, is made up Nomveliso Ntanjana (chairperson), Nare Thupana (vice chairperson), Grant Reagon Son, Tumelo Chipfupa, and Pfumelani Mbulayeni.

"While we congratulate Cabinet on confirming the appointments of the new councillors, there is much work to be done and no time to rest," said Aaron Munetsi, CEO of Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA), adding that a 12-month backlog would need to be addressed as a priority.

"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."

Munetsi previously told Business Insider South Africa that the delay in appointing a new council was "an unnecessary and uncalled for own-goal" which had given international airlines, not subject to the IASLC's approval, an advantage over local carriers looking abroad.

“Airlink cautiously welcomes the appointment of the new councils. Now that the new councillors have been confirmed, it is important that they are able to start moving quickly,” said Airlink CEO and MD, Rodger Foster.

“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.”

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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