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South Africa risks losing pilots and other valuable skills overseas: Minister

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Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has warned that aviation skills are scarce around the world – and South Africans will be in high demand once international lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Addressing the national aviation conference on Thursday (April 8), Mbalula said the government, regulators. and operators must work together to ensure that the aviation industry is well positioned to recover and take advantage of the opportunities presented by the pandemic.

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“In our case, we’ve seen a lot of our well-trained and experienced Airmen being drawn away from South Africa to jobs and opportunities in countries that offer much better pay,” he said.

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“The consequences of the Covid-19 epidemic will only serve to intensify competition for limited, scarce and critical skills. It is therefore essential to plan ahead for such a reality, as this could jeopardize our country’s remarkable record in maintaining the safety and security of civil aviation, ”he said.

Mbalula added that the local aviation industry must be prepared for the lifting of travel restrictions that have been triggered by the start of the pandemic.

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“There is no doubt that the aviation industry will eventually take off. However, when this is the case, the entire value chain must be ready to jump-start and take advantage of the opportunities of the new economy.

“In addition, we must be prepared to assimilate air taxis and other remotely piloted aircraft systems into the currently well-oiled, well-organized and well-managed conventional airspace. Very soon, airspaces around the world will be unlike anything we’ve seen before. We must stand up and be up to the challenge, ”he said.

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Data from the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) shows that at the beginning of March, the number of departing passengers in 2020 fell 65.8% compared to 2019, from 21.6 million to 7, 4 million passengers.

The decrease in domestic departing passengers was 61.9% and that of international departing passengers 74.6%.


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