Government discussing ACSA's R11bn recovery plan request – Mbalula
Johannesburg – Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has revealed the government was discussing the R11 billion financial assistance plan for Airports Company South Africa (Acsa).
Mbalula was speaking at a press briefing at OR Tambo International Airport, where Acsa was showcasing its readiness to reopen domestic flights and flights to Durban and Cape Town in June.
In phase one of the phased domestic flights reopening, the Cape Town, King Shaka, Lanseria and OR Tambo International airports would be allowed to operate with stringent social distancing measures.
In phase two, the Braam Fisher, Kruger and Polokwane airports would be reopened, while phase three would see the Kimberley, Upington, Port Elizabeth and East London airports reopen.
Speaking on the impact of Covid-19 on the industry, Mbalula said the government was discussing a recovery plan for the sector and it had already been established that Acsa would need about R11bn.
Mbalula also said the sector had been hamstrung, with Comair – the operators of British Airways and Kulula – the latest to enter business rescue because of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Mbalula defended the decision to allow planes to fly at 100% capacity in June and said they would be operating at a diminished scale with fewer flights.
He said flights could not be compared to buses and minibus taxis, which are only allowed 70% of their capacity under lockdown regulations, because they did not have the high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
“It's like mixing apples with bananas, we can't install HEPA in a taxi because of how the taxi is designed will not allow us to do that. Aircraft we are able to do that. Health practitioners have approved,” he said.
Mbalula said buses and minibus taxis will "eventually" be allowed to operate at 100%, but not for now.
“We have made it compulsory to put on your mask in all transport modes. We are discussing with the taxi industry if we can move to 100% in a taxi and how we can move to that stage,” he said.