While air traffic demand has increased as economies have grown, air transportation itself can be a key cause and facilitator of economic growth. Photo: AP
JOHANNESBURG - Over the past 100 years aviation has transformed the world into a connected global community. This year we expect about 3.3 billion passengers to board planes.

Connectivity is critical to the global economy, thus driving $2.2 trillion (R31.18trln) in economic activity and supporting 57 million highly skilled and well-paid jobs. In the military space the aerospace industry assures us that a nation can develop, build, operate and maintain the most advanced military equipment itself.

Aviation role in Africa

Global economic growth is the key driver of growth in air traffic demand. However, while air traffic demand has increased as economies have grown, air transportation itself can be a key cause and facilitator of economic growth. Not only is the aviation industry a major industry in its own right, employing large numbers of highly skilled workers, but it is an essential input into the rapidly growing global economy.

Greater connections to the global air transport network can boost the productivity and growth of economies by providing better access to markets.

The South African aerospace industry in general is known for its innovative solutions. The country has two original equipment manufactures, Denel Dynamics and Advanced Technologies, which produce unmanned air vehicles and missiles.

South Africa also has aero structures and aircraft component manufactures (Saab Aero structures and Aerosol), and some small manufactures of sports aircraft and gliders. There are also companies manufacturing avionics and sensors.

International Air Transport Association (IATA) worked closely with InterVISTAS Consulting Group to analyse the relationship between a country’s level of connectivity to the global air transport network and its level of production and economic growth. Aviation connectivity is a measure which reflects the range and economic importance of destinations, the frequency of service and the number of onward connections available through each country’s aviation network.

South Africa needs growth levels multiple times faster than the forecast to make a meaningful reduction in unemployment as we are well aware that about a quarter of the labour force is currently out of work.

IATA forecasts a 5.9 percent year-on-year growth in African Aviation over the next 20 years, making aviation the fastest growing region worldwide with passengers number expected to increase from 100 million to more than 300 million by 2026.

All airlines need to position themselves well to take advantage of this, and compete more effectively to become profitable. With that in mind an immense shift on South Africa’s gross domestic product is likely to improve the economy. In the coming years we will see more investments coming to South Africa in terms of job creation and B to B Corporations.

Domestic aviation outlook

Airline passage traffic is growing strongly in South Africa. Passenger growth in South Africa is defying all economic logic. The first edition of Aviation Barometer actually covers two quarters: January to March and April to June this year both cover domestic passenger arrivals and departure.

Passenger arrivals in the first quarter of this year were up across the board in comparison to the first quarter of last 2017.

Domestic arrivals jumped to 11.4 percent, while international arrivals went up 2.3 percent and regional arrivals by 2 percent.

Total arrivals were up to 8.4 percent, while in a similar pattern to departures.

Domestic departures were up to 11.3 percent, international departures rose 3.1 percent and regional departures by 1.8 percent, therefore total departures amounting to an 8.6 percent increase.

For the second quarter in comparison with the same period last year again there were increases in all categories.

Domestic arrivals rose by 5 percent, international arrivals by 3.2 percent and regional arrivals by 7 percent.

Investment in aviation can generate wider economic benefits, particularly in developing economies.

By increasing a country’s connections to the global air transport network, investment in aviation can boost its long-term productivity and economic growth.

These wider economic benefits should be included in policy appraisals.

We have the best busiest airport in Africa, pilot training schools, best MROs (maintenance repair organisations), reliable cabin crew and one of the safest civil aviation authorities aligned with open sky policies.

My humble request to the Department of Trade and Industry is to make space for the aviation sector on outgoing and incoming delegations to position and showcase ourselves as window or gateway to Africa.

Aviation creates an atmosphere where we get an opportunity to showcase South Africa. The aviation sector has the possibility of growth, both on an economical and job creation level, and is in line with the mission of our President Cyril Ramaphosa, which is to attract $100 billion in investments.

Javed Malik is the chairperson of BRICS aviation working group. He is also the chairperson of the Black Business Council and Transport Committee, and the co-founder of the Cobra aviation group.

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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- BUSINESS REPORT