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By Javed Malik Time of article published May 13, 2019JOHANNESBURG – To most people, the “sky is the limit”, but to those who love aviation “the sky” is their home and there is no limit.

The BRICS Regional Aviation Working Group, which I lead, is now at a dynamic stage of development and at the BRICS Business Forum, the majority of the countries involved – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – emphasised the importance of growth and business opportunities in the aviation sector.

However, red tape hurdles exist that hinder this sector.

Air travel needs to be made easier and more accessible, with better visa policies to boost the sector and promote growth.

To enable this a united sky policy for BRICS countries is needed with one trade policy, one currency and one passport.

BRICS member countries said they were eager to invest in aviation.

A milestone was achieved and a memorandum of understanding was signed by BRICS transport ministers on July 22 last year for mutual benefit to bolster the regional aviation sector.

An implement framework was designed to support co-operation for BRICS countries to integrate the aviation industry.

The resolution was passed by a house full of passionate aviators.

Four projects were adopted and divided into BRICS Aviation Working Group countries, where each country will lead one project. A way forward was established.

I am most confident that the BRICS Aviation working group will make rapid progress. This confidence comes from knowing that I have a team that is committed and dedicated.

We took the first step to a right direction and it complements our Open Sky Policy in Africa and free trade zone policies.

The BRICS aviation resolution is important to South Africa as it creates a runway for economic opportunities and the creation of jobs to take off.

South Africa needs growth levels multiple times faster than the forecast to meaningfully reduce unemployment, with about a quarter of the labour force currently out of work.

The International Air Transport Association forecasts a 5.9percent year-on-year growth in African aviation over the next 20 years in the fastest-growing global region, with passenger numbers expected to increase from 100million to more than 300million by 2026.

To create local jobs, the South African Skills Development Act recommends that there should be a continuous platform for youth and training academies as regards the defence and aviation sector.

All African airlines need to position themselves to take advantage of this growth outlook and compete more effectively to become profitable.

In the coming years we will see more investments coming to South Africa in terms of job creation and B-to-B Corporations.

It sounds like a long walk to economic freedom.

But it is said in China: “If you have a 1000-mile journey, you need to take the first step”.

The message from President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is striving to attract $100billion (R1.41trillion) in investment to the country, is to tell the world SA Inc is open for business.

But I have no doubt that South Africa will achieve the target before the expected time.

Javed Malik is chairperson of the BRICS Aviation Group and co-founder and the chairperson of Cobra Aviation Group.

BUSINESS REPORT 

By Javed Malik Time of article published Jul 30, 2018JOHANNESBURG – To most people the “sky is the limit”, but to those who love aviation “the sky” is their home and there is no limit.

I was honoured recently to lead the BRICS Regional Aviation Working Group (RAWG) under the South African flag.

RAWG is at a dynamic stage of development and at the BRICS Business Forum, the majority of the countries – Brazil, India, China, Russia and South Africa – emphasised the importance of growth and business opportunities in the aviation sector.

However, red tape hurdles exist that hinder this sector. Air travel needs to be made easier and more accessible with better visa policies to boost the sector and promote growth.

To enable this a united sky policy for BRICS countries is needed with one trade policy, one currency and one passport.

BRICS member countries said they were eager to invest in aviation.

A milestone was achieved and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by BRICS transport ministers on July 22 for mutual benefit to bolster the regional aviation sector.

An implement framework was designed to support co-operation for BRICS countries to integrate the aviation industry.

The flags of South Africa, India, Russia, Brazil and China are displayed at a BRICS conference. Picture: Reuters/Tyrone Siu

The resolution was passed by a house full of passionate aviators. Four projects were adopted and divided into BRICS Aviation Working Group countries, where each country will lead one project. A way forward was established. I am most confident that the BRICS Aviation working group will make rapid progress.

This confidence comes from knowing that I have a team that is committed and dedicated. We took the first step to a right a direction and it compliments our Open Sky Policy in Africa and free trade zone policies.

The BRICS aviation resolution is important to South Africa, as it creates a runway for economic opportunities and the creation of jobs to take off.

South Africa needs growth levels many times faster than the forecast to meaningfully reduce unemployment, with about a quarter of the labour force currently out of work.

The International Air Transport Association forecasts a 5.9percent year-on-year growth in African aviation over the next 20 years as the fastest growing global region, with passengers number expected to increase from 100million to more than 300million by 2026.

To create local jobs, the South African Skills Development Act recommends that there should be a continuous platform for youth and training academies as regards the defence and aviation sector.

All African airlines need to position themselves to take advantage of this growth outlook and compete more effectively to become profitable.

In the coming years we will see more investments coming to South Africa in terms of job creation and Benefit to Benefit Corporations.

It sounds like a long walk to economic freedom.

But it is said in China: “If you have a thousand mile journey you need to take the first step”.

The message from President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is striving to attract $100billion (R1.31trillion) in investment to the country, is to tell the world SA Inc is open for business.

But I have no doubt that South Africa will achieve the target before the expected time.

Javed Malik is chairperson of the BRICS Aviation Group and co-founder and chairperson of Cobra Aviation Group.

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

– BUSINESS REPORT

OPINION: Aviation sector after Covid-19
By Opinion Time of article published Jul 22, 2020
By Javed Malik
The past few years in the South African aviation sector the industry thought it had seen the worst of times, but after this Covid-19 pandemic, nobody knows how to handle the challenges ahead. The aviation and leisure sector is one of the hard hit sectors in the world.

Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the aviation industry due to travel restrictions and a slump in demand among travellers. We witnessed many airlines forced to cancel flights, severely reducing revenue.
This has forced many airlines to close down and retrench almost half of their work force. Other airlines have declared bankruptcy or gone in to business rescue.The question that remains in my mind is how we can survive and go through this period.
I believe we are going to start the year 2022 on the same page where we were on January 2020. Everyone is anxious about a future full of air travel business activity, but post-Covid-19 air operators in South Africa and across the globe may remain clueless of the future, further negatively impacting industry growth and expansion and the greater tourism industry.

Several things will have to be considered for the aviation industry in South Africa and internationally to bounce back, chief among them being how to reboot the low confidence and willingness of air travellers to begin to travel in large numbers.
When the situation gets back to normal, people won’t be able to fly immediately. There is likely to be an amount of undecidedness. Vigorous and widespread advertising and marketing would be needed to boost confidence among travellers.
I see a short-term outlook where most travellers are likely to take time to put their money in leisure vacations, leaving business travellers and other smaller, but significant travel niches like the government and NGOs among those most in need of travel by air.

Naturally, the three sectors’ have high and inevitable financial means or the potential to kick-start regular air travel globally.
The fact remains that in comparison with other travel niches as above stated, their numbers are only a small fraction of the overall or combined air travel figures.
This scenario will hit the aviation industry hard, forcing many players – both big and small – to remain uncertain of their future as is the current case.

Relief:
It’s good to see some of the government supporting airline industries in their own countries by planning to ease out restrictions and gradually return to normality, even though aviation still looks far from recovering.
Over the past few months, governments have been providing their domestic industries with different types of financial support in the form of takeovers, relief packages and bailouts. Once again authorities left us alone like orphans to fight our own battles and they like to see how things are going to be. If we survive it’s good, if we don’t good luck.
At the same time we cannot blame the government because they have too many predicaments on their side.
Relief for the industry is the key for goodwill building, job retention and creation of a sense of belonging while ensuring help to the South African economy to remain stable and also influence the development of related and other industrial sectors down the line.
Needless to say that the aviation industry always welcomes and values government interventions at the policy level, bringing confidence and pride to the broader air transport and tourism industry.
Maximise:
During the pandemic most people in the industry have been forced to focus on their welfare, never mind that of others. Concern for what tomorrow holds for each one has become central to how decisions are taken, therefore, putting the collective principle on hold or in danger.
Lockdown is the time to find ways on how best to maximize aviation industry potential and growth. Questions likely to be asked by aviation industry experts and others would likely be like these: What does the future of aviation look like given the current status quo of the global economies? How far should insurance schemes for the aviation sector go to embrace the outcomes of diseases such as Covid-19 in the future? What about relief for the sector, in particular here in South Africa were currently no plans exist to capacitate airlines and key workers?
My fear, perhaps shared by others, is that the negative trend may continue in to the near future. This, despite the aviation sector year-in-year-out receiving millions of rands poured in by the government and private investors, a reality that always amuses me.
Loads of money is being lost annually and the industry’s long-term operational capacity remains unclear.
Besides the current health crisis, the other situations causing the South African aviation sector to struggle is the selling of seats when airlines are not making money, high interest costs on loans, volatile and crazy dancing fluctuating US dollar impacting fuel price, insufficient revenue and cash generation in relation to operating cost.
Decisions:
We pray that the South African skies will once again get busy with passenger air activity in contrast with the current situation where there are more cargo flights engaged in essential interventions.
Precaution must, however, be taken going into the future and shouldn’t blind aviators from any opportunities and possibilities that could exist, now or in the future.
It is also important for South Africa to open leisure travelling with precautions as soon as possible, even though it’s going to be difficult to attract leisure traveller and tourism.
In the end, the future of South African aviation will be determined with the right and positive thinking and perhaps above all, decision-making, keep praying and bringing more abilities.
Let’s all do all we can as individuals and stakeholders of the aviation sector and the rest of the community at national and provincial levels to flatten the Covid-19 curve and help our passenger flights back to serious business. Together we will win the war against the current pandemic and the economic downturn.
Javed Malik is the chairman of Cobra Aviation Group.

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