By ETimes

A number of southern African countries are likely to abandon their national carriers as a result of the coronavirus crisis but an integrated holistic aviation market can keep national airlines afloat, Airlines Association of Southern Africa chief executive officer Aaron Munetsi said.

Across the African continent in general, passenger traffic volumes continued to be low due to the inconsistencies in the messaging regarding border closures, health protocols and continued surge in Covid-19 infections in some countries.

Newly appointed CEO Munetsi told African Airlines Association SkyConnect Leadership Dialogues that the southern African aviation industry needs to be coordinated and leverage on available resources.

“How do we coordinate our development activities in southern Africa? Aviation cannot be a standalone. We have 6 countries in Southern Africa that are landlocked. They have to be an integral part of the entire process of developing an integrated aviation industry,” he said.

He said Southern Africa can actually become a very competitive, efficient and effective network destination.

“It can be a network destination because our customers and goods would arrive in one area traverse the region and end it to another area without any barrier and we need to incorporate what we have been given by AU in terms of African Continental Free Trade Agreement.”

Southern Africa was the most impacted region of Africa, with the Covid-19 crisis. The GDP growth rate reduced from 0.7% in 2019 to a negative 7% in 2020.

“Unfortunately not every country is going to get out of this pandemic with a national carrier. I would love to see as many airlines as possible but it’s just the way nature works,” Munetsi said.

He said there are a lot of industry aviation experts in this part of the continent.

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“We have airlines in this region, some that are even above 80 octogenarians and we have airlines that are startups, some that are even three months or not even three years old. In between there is so much experience, experts and exposure that we need to get together and make sure that we develop ourselves to become an integrated holistic aviation market,” he said, adding that the industry supports growth of the region from an economic and social point of view.

While funding remains a challenge, the aviation industry has also faced a tangle of inconsistent travel and quarantine rules which airlines partially blame for putting people off taking the reduced number of flights – Harare

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