L        COVID-19 Portal / 2020 News

For access to reliable advice, research and studies, situation and progress reports, guides, and news about COVID-19 and vaccinations, visit the WHO pandemic portal.

For access to reliable COVID-19 information, news, regulations and guidelines about the pandemic on the African continent, visit the African Union resource portal

For access to reliable COVID-19 per country status updates, situation reports, and guidelines for cross-border transport, visit the SADC Region COVID-19 portal.

 L        COVID-19 News / 2020

  L  [INTERVIEW] Is the airline industry ready for the festive season?      
November 30, 2020. Nompu Siziba for MoneyWeb, SAfm.

‘As we go into 2021…an absolutely critical year, we’re still going to see problems with cash availability and liquidity’: AASA CEO Chris Zweigenthal.  

Nompu Siziba interviews AASA CEO, Chris Zweigenthal about developments and new players in the local aviation industry, and how South Africa's tourism demand is looking for the festive season. Read the transcript of the radio interview... 

  L  [ANALYSIS] For most African carriers, next year will be precarious      
November 25, 2020. Victoria Moores for Air Transport World published by Aviation Week Network.

All regions face a steep uphill climb from the COVID-19 crisis, but the starting point for African carriers is much further down the mountain. Most were loss-making before the pandemic and are ill-equipped for the tough journey that will continue through 2021. Read the original article featuring comments by Chris Zweigenthal, AASA CEO... 

  L  [INTERVIEW: Air Transport World] Chris Zweigenthal, AASA CEO      
November 17, 2020. Victoria Moores for Air Transport World published by Aviation Week Network.

Chris Zweigenthal speaks about how better testing can eliminate mandatory and universal quarantines that kill passenger demand. Read the rush transcript of the interview... 

  L  Re-opening of South Africa to all international tourists: positive steps to drive jobs and economic stimulus - AASA CEO      
November 13, 2020. AASA News.

The prospects for Southern Africa’s economic recovery and future growth, along with securing millions of jobs in the region, received a welcome boost on 11 November 2020, with President Ramaphosa’s re-opening of South Africa to all international tourists. But we are not out of the woods yet.      

The decision marks the culmination of an intensive effort by industry, led by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, AASA and partner bodies, to persuade the South African government it could safely resume international air travel without compromising its efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. 
    Under the relaxed restrictions, tourists from all nations may visit South Africa as long as they present valid COVID-19 test certificates. 
    AASA welcomes this positive step forward and urges all other SADC countries that have also reopened their borders to harmonise the implementation of the ICAO Council’s Aviation Recovery Task Force’s (CART) guidance for the safe resumption of air travel and tourism. These measures and standards were prepared in conjunction with the World Health Organisation. They are designed to be adopted systematically worldwide to eliminate inconsistencies and the need for arbitrary measures such as quarantines and the discrimination of travellers according to meaningless lists of countries classified by risk. Read the full article in the November 2020 Issue 3 of AASA News... 

While governments must assist communities and other enterprises that are also desperate for financial relief, they should not ignore the vital role that aviation, travel and tourism will play in driving Southern Africa’s economic recovery through the jobs they create - directly and indirectly - and the millions of people whose livelihoods are dependent upon them. Chris Zweigenthal, AASA CEO 

  L  Positive steps but we’re not out of the woods yet, warns AASA      
November 13, 2020. Aviation Business Journal.

The Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) CEO, Chris Zweigenthal, has expressed appreciation over the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa on the relaxation of restrictions on international travel in South Africa.  
    The prospects for Southern Africa’s economic recovery and future growth, along with securing millions of jobs in the region, has received a welcome boost, with President Ramaphosa’s re-opening of South Africa to all international tourists, Mr. Zweigenthal stated. Read more... 

  L  [INTERVIEW] AASA CEO welcomes South Africa's relaxation of international travel restrictions      
November 12, 2020. @SATravelReady

@satravelready with Chris Zweigenthal: welcoming the full reopening of our borders. #SouthAfricaisTravelReady #MakingTravelHappenAgain #BackToTravel

  L  Unnecessary restrictions and lack of support for air transport industry will prolong Southern Africa's economic recovery      
October 8, 2020. AASA news release

  • Air travel can be safe without arbitrary prohibitions on travellers from classified countries
  • Jobs and Southern Africa’s economic recovery are in jeopardy
  • Survival and recovery requires governments and industry to engage directly at highest levels

Southern Africa’s economic recovery and future growth, along with nearly five million jobs in the region are in jeopardy as a result of the continued imposition of inconsistent and arbitrary restrictions on air travel, warns the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA).

    At the same time, AASA called for the region’s governments to prioritise support for their entire air transport and tourism industries, including private and public sector airlines, airports, air navigation services, ground handlers, safety regulators, suppliers and allied businesses.

    “Not a single aviation industry stakeholder has been spared. Every organisation relying on revenue for airline operations and passengers is affected, with traumatic social and financial consequences. Governments can and must provide support to the entire industry as the recovery of their economies is heavily dependent upon it,” explained AASA CEO, Chris Zweigenthal, who was addressing the body’s virtual 50th annual general meeting today. Read the full news release...

  L  Tourism industry says safe travel is possible and urgent      
September 23, 2020. Bekezela Phakathi for Business LIve

‘We need to open access as far and as quickly as possible to stimulate recovery of our travel and tourism industry.’ Chris Zweigenthal, AASA CEO

As the government weighs options on which overseas countries will be open for travel to and from SA and some key sources of tourists consider new measures to contain spikes in Covid-19 infections, players in the multibillion-rand industry said further travel restrictions or bans will derail any recovery. 
    The government has already indicated that travel within Africa will be open from October 1 in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement earlier in September that the country was moving to level 1 of the national lockdown. Read the original article...

  L  SA tourism sector cautiously hopeful as borders set to reopen      
September 17, 2020. Wendell Roelf for Reuters

South Africa's pandemic-battered tourism sector on Thursday welcomed a government decision to allow international travel from October 1 but officials worried restrictions on key markets facing high infection rates could curtail any recovery.                                                                                         
    The Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) said authorities should move to accommodate business and leisure travellers and remove barriers to entry such as visas and quarantine...Read the original article...

  L  SA tourism industry ready to welcome back international travellers      September 16, 2020.  Sasha Planting for Business Maverick

After weeks of intensive lobbying, South Africa’s travel and tourism industry is readying itself for the opening of the country’s borders after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the nation will move from Level 2 to Level 1 of the lockdown. 
    The reopening of South Africa’s borders to international travel follows several meetings convened by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and involving all players in the aviation industry on the best and safest way to reopen the airline industry. 

We have all, including the airlines, airports and the operators, submitted our operating procedures and COVID-19 protocols to the Civil Aviation Authority for approval. We are ready. Chris Zweigenthal, AASA CEO

“We are ready; good to go,” adds Deon Cloete, general manager, Cape Town International, Airports Company South Africa (ACSA). “We recognise that we have a huge responsibility. We have to get it right when the borders open.” Read the original article...

  L  AASA/TBCSA call for opening up of international borders      
September 9, 2020.  Heidi Gibson for World Airnews

Chris Zweigenthal, AASA CEO, has today joined the call by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) to open up the country’s borders to international travel. The recently announced 51% decline in South Africa’s GDP during Q2 has highlighted the need for swift measures to aid South Africa’s ailing economy and the tourism and aviation sectors are among those sectors hardest hit. 
    Conversely, these two sectors also have the greatest potential to stimulate inclusive economic growth and employment. "International tourism can reopen safely, but it requires an enabling environment, which includes the reopening of international borders, and improved visa regime, air access and better safety for tourists. Tourism can be South Africa’s economic lifeline, but only if international borders are opened up soon. We are appealing to the Government to safely open our borders. Our industry is ready; our source markets are waiting to travel, so let’s save jobs and the economy." said Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, TBCSA CEO. 
    Chris Zweigenthal, who serves as a director on the board of TBCSA, told World Airnews that AASA is wholeheartedly supporting this call as operationally the airlines and airports will be ready when the authority is given to open the borders. Read more...

South Africa has passed the peak and health experts are confirming that there is no reason not to fully open the economy and the borders. Given the health and safety protocols that are in place and must be complied with, the risk of transmission of the virus is low. We cannot wait for a vaccine or for the infection rates to go to zero. Everything South Africa did has prepared us to mitigate the risks and deal with the infections where it occurs. Chris Zweigenthal, AASA CEO 

  L  [WATCH] Dear Travellers - Fly With Confidence      
August 7, 2020. IATAtv

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on the local and global aviation, travel and tourism sectors. 

In South Africa, currently at Level 3 of the state of disaster regulatory model, the travel ban still applies and our airlines, travel and tourism businesses are operating at a limited capacity.
    As soon as the travel ban is lifted, AASA will heed the call to action and join the global movement to restore passenger confidence and rebuild our sector so we can take to the skies again. AASA and it's airline members support IATA's #FlyWithConfidence campaign (together with oneworld Alliance, SkyTeam and Star Alliance) to highlight the current health and safety measures in place by airlines to ensure you can fly with confidence. #FlySafe #ReadyToTravel

  L  Africa Tomorrow: Reinventing Resilience in Travel, Hospitality and Aviation Virtual Conference 
June 20, 2020AASA News.

AASA CEO, Chris Zweigenthal will be participating in the Aviation Panel Sessions at the #AfricaTomorrow virtual conference on 21 July 2020.        
    "Africa's travel & tourism, hospitality and aviation sectors are facing challenges unlike we've ever witnessed before. Africa Tomorrow has been developed in this time of uncertainty to unite the industry’s leaders and to encourage online networking for discussions on how we deal with the economic circumstances caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and what new partnerships are needed for all kinds of industry businesses.
    Africa Tomorrow is brought to you by the teams behind AHIF - Africa Hotel Investment Forum and AviaDev Africa. Featuring 6 hours of essential insights delivered by 100+ speakers, networking opportunities with thousands of your industry peers, live video-meeting functionality and a virtual expo where you can meet some of the most innovative industry brands." Africa Tomorrow. 

Resumption of restricted air services a welcome start, but more to do to rebuild the industry and repair the economy 
June 1, 2019. Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Airlines Association of Southern Africa sees the resumption of South African domestic passenger air services, albeit on a limited basis, as a positive move, but more destinations will be included in a phased in basis for the industry to make a meaningful contribution to the recovery of the country’s economy. 
    Under the country’s State of Disaster COVID-19 Level 3 restrictions local carriers are permitted to offer flights on the main trunk routes linking Johannesburg (both OR Tambo and Lanseria airports), Cape Town and Durban – under stringent health and biosecurity conditions.
    “It is crucial that the new systems are given appropriate capacity by Port Health so they can be stress-tested as quickly and rigorously as possible. Only then will the reconnection of other inland and coastal cities be phased in. The sooner this occurs, the better as survival of airlines and their ability to support the repair of the local and national economies are entirely dependent on this,” explained AASA CEO, Chris Zweigenthal. Download the press release [.pdf] 

L    [WATCH] How will the Southern African airline industry emerge from the COVID-19 crisis?      
May 12, 2020. CNBC Africa News.

The global aviation industry is experiencing devastating financial losses during the Covid-19 pandemic, which is resulting in job losses, airline restructuring and the complete dismantling of airline businesses. Here in South Africa we have been served with our fair share of airline troubles as this week Comair entered into voluntary business rescue and SAA is looking at developing a new national carrier. 
    Joining CNBC Africa to unpack the latest on Southern Africa’s airline industry and national carrier South African Airways is Chris Zweigenthal, AASA CEO.

  L  Urgent Appeal to International Community to Support African Travel and Tourism Sector  
May 6, 2020. IATA press release.

Geneva - Five international air transport and tourism bodies have launched an appeal to international financial institutions, country development partners and international donors to support Africa’s Travel and Tourism sector which employs some 24.6 million people on the continent.
    Without urgent funding, the COVID-19 crisis could see a collapse of the sector in Africa, taking with it millions of jobs. The sector contributes 
$169 bn to Africa’s economy, representing 7.1% of the continent’s GDP.  
    "The impact of COVID-19 in Africa continues to be brutal. Air travel and tourism have essentially shut down. Now, more than ever, international countries need to come together to help those communities that are most vulnerable. The survival of our industry and its allied sectors has serious ramifications for Africa’s entire air transport system." Chris Zweigenthal, AASA CEO...Download the full press release.

  L  [WATCH] Business Day TV/COVID-19: Turbulent times for airlines  
April 17, 2020. Michael Avery for Business Day TV.

Business Day TV’s Michael Avery speaks to Elmar Conradie, CEO of Safair; Dr Joachim Vermooten, an economist; and Chris Zweigenthal, CEO of AASA about the state of the South African aviation industry.

  L  [WATCH] State of the local aviation sector      
April 7, 2020. Business Day TV.

Chris Zweigenthal, CEO of AASA, gives an interview to Business Day TV on the state of the local and international aviation sector, and shares his views on the future of aviation in a post COVID-19 world.

 L        / In Brief

  L  An extraordinary year for the Southern African aviation industry - AASA CEO      
October 9, 2020. SATSA.com.

Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) CEO, Chris Zweigenthal, recently addressed the its 50th Annual General Meeting saying it has been an extraordinary year for the Southern African aviation industry: 
    "Airlines are not alone in facing the present crisis. Our industry partners, including infrastructure and other service providers and safety regulators have been equally affected. Over the past seven months the constructive working relationships AASA has forged over decades with all of its industry partners and stakeholders, has proven invaluable and we have been able to find common ground and solutions on most of the issues that we usually and routinely need to address to ensure that air transport in our region is safe, efficient, viable, accessible and affordable. COVID-19 and the devastating effects for our entire industry have demanded our attention this year." Read the original article... 

  L  [WEBCAST] Rebuilding the industry      
September, 23 2020. Southern Africa's Travel News.

In this week’s webcast, CEO of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa, Chris Zweigenthal, talks to Travel News journalist Sarah Robertson about obstacles that the travel industry will still need to overcome to rebuild itself following the announcement that South Africa’s borders will reopen on October 1. Chris also discusses the state of the domestic aviation sector, which is beginning to show some recovery following a dismal restart of local flights in June.

  L  What to expect from South Africa’s new international travel list: Tourism Minister      
September 20, 2020. BusinessTech.co.za

Government faces a balancing act as it selects the countries which will be allowed to travel to and from South Africa under the new Level 1 lockdown. Tourism Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, told the Sunday Times that South Africa is using World Health Organisation guidelines to determine which countries to allow in when international travel resumes. This includes factors such as transmission patterns, national public health and social measures for controlling outbreaks in both departure and destination countries, and public health...Read the original article...

  L  [PANEL DISCUSSION] INSOL Virtual: Shelter in Place? The Effects of Lockdown and Beyond on the Travel and Tourism Industry                 September 16, 2020. Baker McKenzie - Lexology.com

This panel discussion explored the significant impact COVID has had on the travel and tourism industry and the knock-on effects to other businesses as a result. There were also some interesting predictions made about what we can expect to see in the future. The panelists were Robert Webster (President of Hotels Travel and Tourism group CBRE), Luis Yofe (Director of Travel and Logistics CRDF Global) and Chris Zweigenthal (CEO of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa).

Some key insights include: 

  • The consensus was that the speed and wide-spread impact of COVID-19 restrictions on airlines and the global travel industry has been severe. Shifts in how we do business from face-to face to being facilitated remotely (like the INSOL conference itself) are expected to have longterm impacts on business air travel and hotel accommodation. Leisure travel is likely to be more resilient with a built up desire to travel in response to lockdowns meaning there is already greater demand for it. Domestic travel at “drive to” destinations is already seeing the benefit of that demand.
  • A projected return to near pre-COVID-19 levels in these industries is presently being forecast for 2024...Read the original article...

  L  [Interview] Borders need to open as soon as possible – AASA      
September 16, 2020.  Nompu Siziba interviews Gillian Saunders

Expectations for the tourism industry ahead of the President’s national address

NS: South Africa is ready, travel ready collective. It’s hosting a discussion with the Airline Association of Southern Africa and other aviation players, including Ethiopian airlines and Etihad. And they’re basically calling for our international borders to be opened up, to get that much-needed inbound tourism coming in. So, what are the key themes that are being discussed there?

GS: Well, I think key is that we need to open up all of our international borders. It’s not worth doing it in a phased approach. And, when we look at that, there’s no reason from a pandemic or public health perspective to treat somebody from Botswana or somebody from Kenya differently from anybody from Germany, the UK or China. So it’s really about, if the country would like to, looking at perhaps very high-risk countries and putting different protocols in place, such as quarantine for a very high-risk countries, COVID testing for medium–risk countries, and no protocols in terms of ability to come across our borders and get to South Africa, for people from low-risk countries. Read or listen to the interview here...

  L  [INTERVIEW] Collaboration: strength in numbers with Chris Zweigenthal
September 8, 2020. Just Aviation Africa (JAA)

COVID-19 has affected each region differently. Southern Africa appears to have taken one of the biggest blows in Africa. With three airlines under administration and many more others struggling to survive. 
   The JAA Interview Series speaks to Chris Zweigenthal, CEO of AASA on the status and way forward for commercial aviation in Southern Africa.  Read the full interview.

  L  AASA 50th Virtual AGM via Zoom to be held on 8 October 2020 at 12h00
September 8, 2020AASA news.

AASA has announced it will host the 50th AGM via Zoom on 8 October 2020 at 12h00 -15h00. For more information contact Celeste Breedt on aasa@aasa.za.net 

Airlink are confirmed to host the 2021 Annual General Assembly.

L    [WATCH] Africa Tomorrow virtual conference      
July 23, 2020. AviaDev Consult.
Panel discussion: The view from the clouds with Africa's Aviation Leaders  

Moderated by Jon Howell (CEO, AviaDev Africa) and Ogaga Udjo (Regional Partner-Africa, AviaDev Consult)  

Watch this panel discussion from the  #AfricaTomorrow virtual conference held on 21 July 2020.

AASA CEO, Chris Zweigenthal, joined other industry leaders including: Abderahmane Berthe [SG, African Airlines Association (AFRAA)]; Sanjeev Gadhia [(Vice Chairman, The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA)]; and Raphael Kuuchi [Special Envoy to Africa on Aero-Political Affairs, International Air Transport Association (IATA)] to discuss the challenges facing the African aviation industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  L  IATA Interactive Map Gives Travelers Latest COVID-19 Restrictions with Real-time Alerts Available    
June 10, 2020. IATA News.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) introduced a free online interactive world map to provide travelers with the latest COVID-19 entry regulations by country. The map relies on IATA’s Timatic database which contains information on documentation required for international travel.
    To keep pace with the dynamic situation with respect to COVID-19, Timatic is updated more than 200 times per day to provide accurate travel restrictions specific to the current pandemic, based on one’s citizenship and country of residence. Read the original article...

  L  Open more airports, routes if SA airlines are to survive - industry body      June 3, 2020Carin Smith, Fin24.

The chances of South Africa's airlines surviving the devastating impact of the coronavirus flight bans and their ability to contribute to economic repair in the country, will depend on how soon more airports and routes can open, says Chris Zweigenthal, CEO of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa. Read the original article...

  L  Pax planes flying again a good sign for air cargo – AASA      
June 3, 2020. Liesl Venter, Southern Africa Freight News.

The return of domestic passenger air services, albeit on a limited basis, is a positive development for the country’s economy, says the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA). With the bulk of air cargo flown in passenger aircraft, it also bodes well for airfreight capacity and will the pressure on the cargo sector. According to AASA CEO, Chris Zweigenthal, the opening of air services will make a meaningful contribution to the recovery of the economy. Read the original article...

  L  [WATCH] The Aviation Industry In Crisis | Carte Blanche | M-Net
May 24, 2020. Cart Blanche.

With fleets of aeroplanes grounded; millions of passengers sitting at home and billions lost in revenue – the global aviation industry is in a freefall.
    As most countries around the world continue to protect their citizens from the spread of the coronavirus by keeping their borders closed and limiting international travel, experts predict that the repercussions for airlines will be devastating.
    The industry is in desperate need of financial relief but can it survive the impact?
     Macfarlane Moleli interviews Chris Zweigenthal, CEO of AASA, about the South African airline industry crisis.

  L  [WATCH] Comair goes into business rescue      
May 8, 2020. SABC News.

Chris Zweigenthal, CEO of AASA, gives an interview to SABC News about the airline industry in crisis and efforts to get us flying again.

  L  [WATCH] Keeping Africa connected - helping the continent thrive                                              
May 8, 2020. IATAtv.

Africa is both vast and beautiful. After this crisis, connecting the continent will help it rebuild, and thrive. #SupportAviation

  L  [WATCH] IATA, UNWTO, WTTC, AFRAA & AASA African airlines Joint Appeal  
May 6, 2020. IATA video release.

"AASA was pleased to join the initiative by several international organisations calling for support from international financial institutions, country development partners and international donors to support Africa’s travel and tourism sector during these extraordinary times of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
    During this time, it is important to raise the concerns of our industry and seek the assistance necessary to ensure we emerge from this pandemic able to re-start our industry and ramp up to meet customer demand in what will remain a challenging environment for many months, possibly years." said Chris Zweigenthal, CEO of AASA.