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 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.