The International Air Transport Association has revealed that some 700 aviation leaders are gathering in Cape Town, South Africa for the 69th IATA annual general meeting and World Air Transport Summit.
Cape Town will be the global capital of commercial aviation as the industry discusses its most important issues, including safety, environment, distribution and financial sustainability among others.
IATA director general Tony Tyler revealed: “African aviation is at an inflection point. Although it is small by global standards, the potential is enormous with a billion people spread across 20 per cent of earth’s land mass.
“The African Union celebrated its first 50 years over the weekend.
“African unity and integration depends on connectivity.
“The AGM will be an important opportunity to reflect on the critical role that aviation plays on the African continent,” added Tyler.
This is the first time the AGM is being held in South Africa and only the third time in IATA’s 69-year history that the AGM is taking place in Africa (Cairo, Egypt in 1946; and Nairobi, Kenya in 1991).
South African Airways, a longstanding IATA member, is hosting the event.
Tyler also made note of the 100th anniversary of the first commercial airline flight, which will be celebrated on January 1st 2014.
“It is altogether appropriate that we look forward to the next century of commercial air transport in a region which is so rich in promise,” Tyler said.
Air transport has a significant footprint on the African continent.
When combined with the economic impact of aviation-enabled tourism, the air transport industry supports some 6.7 million high quality African jobs and $67 billion of African GDP.
In South Africa alone, aviation supports 350,000 jobs and makes a ZAR74 billion contribution to South African GDP.