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 L   [AASA PRESS RELEASE] AASA statement on UK relaxing travel restrictions on South Africa and other Southern African nationals

December 14, 2021. AASA news release. 

Johannesburg – The Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) is relieved that sense has prevailed and the UK has decided to relax the travel restrictions that were hastily imposed on South Africa and other Southern African countries following the announcement of the identification of the Omicron variant by South African scientists last month. Download this full news release [pdf]...

It was clear from the start that restrictions, the intentions of which are debatable, were counter-productive and ineffective. We trust that policy makers and political leaders will take their lead from science and harmonise their adoption of measures for safe air travel that are recommended by the WHO and its UN sister body, the International Civil Aviation Organisation. At the same time, governments that have imposed restrictions on air travel ought to provide financial relief to airlines, their service providers and employees who have all been negatively affected by these restrictions. 
Aaron Munetsi, AASA CEO

 L   United Nations Chief slams COVID-19 'travel apartheid' as unacceptable

December 2, 2021. Reuters.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that travel restrictions imposed over COVID-19 that isolate any one country or region as "not only deeply unfair and punitive - they are ineffective." Read more...

 L   SA to remain on Level 1, government mulls mandatory vaccinations as 4th wave looms

November 28, 2021. News24.com

During his Sunday night address, President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa will remain on Alert Level 1.
   President Ramaphosa expressed deep disapointment at the decision of several countries to prohibit travel from a number of Southern African countries following the identification of the Omicron variant.
   "We call upon all those countries that have imposed travel bans on our country and our Southern African sister countries to urgently reverse their decisions and lift the bans they have imposed before any further damage is done to our economies," he said. Read more...

 L   [AASA PRESS RELEASE] AASA urges UK government to reconsider decision to red list several Southern African countries

November 26, 2021. AASA news release. 

Johannesburg – The Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) notes with distress the UK government’s announcement that it will place South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini back onto its “Red List” of countries to which it imposes severe travel restrictions and quarantines.

While we respect every nation’s sovereign right to implement whatever measures it sees fit to combat the spread of COVID-19 variants, we urge Whitehall to reconsider what appears to have been a hasty decision, given the paucity of detailed knowledge and information on the newly identified variant, its presence and the efficacy of vaccines in limiting its potential to cause serious illness. With its announcement, the UK is delivering a body-blow to our region’s travel and tourism sector. It puts businesses, as well as tens of thousands of jobs and many more livelihoods at risk. 
Aaron Munetsi, AASA CEO

“The business and leisure air travel industry in Southern Africa has only just begun to see green shoots emerge as governments have increasingly begun to relax and look to align and simplify their travel requirements and procedures. However, the UK’s unilateral step is a major set-back that sets a worrying precedent,” he added. Download this full news release [pdf]...

  L  SA moves to alert level 2 as Cyril Ramaphosa urges people to get vaccinated against C-19
September 13, 2021. Zintle Mahlati for IOL.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged those who remain unvaccinated to get vaccinated as he announced an easing of Covid-19 restrictions on Sunday night. The president said following consultation and scientific advice, the country would move to risk-adjusted level 2 from Monday. Read the original article...

  L  Concern over Ramaphosa’s absent plan on ending national lockdown as SA moves to level 2
September 13, 2021. Theolin Tembo for IOL.

While the news that lockdown restrictions have been eased and the country has to lockdown level 2 has been welcomed, there are still questions over the president’s plans to end the lockdown. Read the original article...

  L  Digital vaccination certificates just a week away, says health ministry
September 10, 2021. Tanya Farber for TimesLive.

All vaccinated South Africans will soon be eligible for a digital vaccination certificate.

On Friday morning, Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla said, “We have commenced with the development of the digital vaccination certificate which will be protected from fraud.” He said the new certificates will be uploadable on a smartphone and will be printable too. 
    “This is in line with the World Health Organisation’s initiative to attempt to standardise vaccination proof all over the world,” he said, “and in a matter of a week this should be available to those who are vaccinated in South Africa.”


AASA urges governments to speed up vaccinations and provide relief to air travel and tourism sector in order to secure economic recovery 
April 29, 2021. AASA press release.

Johannesburg. The Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA), renewed its call for governments across the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to accelerate vaccination programmes and to provide urgent financial relief to the entire air travel and tourism sector - regardless of ownership - without which economic recovery and future growth will be set back by years. 
    Airlines provide all-important social and economic connections throughout our region and around the world, but COVID-19, associated travel restrictions, the accompanying economic crisis and shifts in the way people are working, have been a devastating quadruple whammy for the entire airline industry, including domestic markets, of which South Africa’s is the largest in Africa.
Second waves of infections, the emergence of a new variant identified in South Africa and the very slow pace of the vaccination roll-out in the region have colluded to suppress confidence in the travel market. It has also meant that many foreign airlines are unable to carry passengers to and from our markets, including those who would connect with domestic flights. The effect has been to starve our domestic carriers of their traditional feeder business. 
Chris Zweigenthal, AASA CEO 

“At the same time, airlines still have to cover their fixed costs for items like aircraft financing, insurance, maintenance, office premises, staff salaries, recurrent training, IT systems, etc. No airlines are immune,” he added.
    With these factors in mind, AASA is urging governments to provide desperately-needed financial support to airlines and other service providers in the air transport value chain on an ownership-agnostic basis, as has happened in most other regions around the world. 
    “While cash would be nice, the fiscal crunch that many of the region’s economies face is not lost on us, but governments have other levers at their disposal to assist the sector, such as exemptions on levies and statutory charges, deferring taxes, reducing airlines’ administrative burden and streamlining bureaucracy. Similarly, they should strengthen and broaden initiatives such as South Africa’s Tourism support fund which is inadequate given our sector’s significant social and economic contribution. 
    Because economic recovery is dependent on air transport connecting the region with its foreign trade and tourism markets, AASA is supporting efforts to enable governments in the region to replace arbitrary travel bans with standardised COVID-19 tests and to introduce secure tools for the validation of traveller’s test and vaccination status. This will enable Southern African and foreign travellers to safely fly to their desired destinations under the UN's WHO and ICAO jointly recommended and proven health and safety protocols that mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission by air travel. 
    “Standardisation is vital. It would be disastrous if every government developed its own set of standards and requirements. That would create confusion, unnecessary hassle and delay not only the recovery of air travel and tourism, but economies at large. That’s because air travel is intrinsic to the functioning of any modern and dynamic economy,” explained Zweigenthal. Download the press release [media outlets]...

  L  Covid-19 and aviation: Health risks and socioeconomic impact go hand in hand - expert      
April 9, 2021. Carin Smith, Fin24.com.

  • The Covid-19 pandemic has led to airlines looking for new sources of revenue.
  • Governments should balance the need for Covid-19 health measures with the impact these will have on a country's socioeconomic situation, suggests an aviation expert.
  • Forward booking for SA's airline industry appears flat for the next few months, conference participants heard.
This is the view shared by Dr Alex Stancu, head for Southern and Eastern Africa at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), during a national aviation conference hosted by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) on Thursday. Read the original article...