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Iata appeals for govt financial relief as COVID-19 takes toll on aviation sector

Since government implemented the nationwide lockdown, no airline has been allowed to fly locally or internationally.

FILE: OR Tambo International Airport. Picture: @ortambo_int/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - International and National Air Transport Association (Iata) have appealed to government for financial relief as they continue to suffer the impact of COVID-19.

They are arguing that the pandemic has crippled the aviation industry.

Since government implemented the nationwide lockdown, no airline has been allowed to fly locally or internationally.

Iata, the Airlines Association of Southern Africa and the Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa said that the revenue generated by the industry in the country would plummet by R55 billion this year.

This puts over 250,000 jobs at risk.

The airline industry said it won't survive without financial assistance from government.

Iata's Katherine Kaczynska said: “Aviation is vital for connecting markets and moving people and goods between them. Recovery post-COVID-19 will be painful.”

The associations said that if nothing was done, the impact would be felt post-COVID-19, leading to the reduction of flights for both passengers and cargo.

Meanwhile, Gauteng Transport MEC Jacob Mamabolo said that the portfolio committee on roads and transport planned to meet with members of the taxi industry to formalise the work of taxi marshals.

The MEC conducted an oversight visit at Daveyton taxi rank in Ekurhuleni to ensure compliance and safety protocols were being implemented as the country prepares to move into level 3 lockdown.

He said the committee would migrate to level 3 with the current transport regulations as more residents were expected to rely on taxis as additional businesses reopened.

Mamabolo said that marshals had played a vital role in spreading COVID-19 awareness and had been at the front line of ensuring commuter safety.

“We will be with the taxi industry this week to hold discussions about how to formalise the work that they are doing and we will make an announcement on how we are going to reinforce measures of control to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at taxi ranks.”

Mamabolo also raised concern over hawkers who were failing to maintain basic COVID-19 safety standards.

“What has been worrying is that the hawkers' level of consciousness and awareness is very low. Many of them are not carrying sanitisers. They are having transactions where they exchange money and they are not cleaning their hands.”