Speaking during the African Airlines Association Annual General Assembly in Johannesburg for which SAA is the host airline, Kona said “regular stakeholder engagement is necessary, and it is important that African airlines foster relationships” if governments and regulators are to be won for a more conducive operating environment.
Africa’s open skies policies should be implemented quickly, providing African airlines easier access to intra-African markets, Kona said.
“SAA wishes to continue to play a critical role in terms of air transport on the continent. We are also cognisant of the fact that our operating environment is highly challenged currently, and as airlines we have to be able to assist one another. As SAA, we clearly see ourselves as part of Africa and are supportive of the African agenda”, said Kona.
Among the major challenges facing African airlines, excessive taxation, lack of expert aviation skills, inadequate infrastructure and higher than world market fuel prices are among those which should be dealt with as a priority. Building routes within Africa is costly and takes time, Kona said, “and there is always a danger that political change can endanger those investments in a short time.”