The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that South African Airways will host the 69th IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit (WATS). The event will draw the top leadership of the air transport industry to Cape Town's International Convention Centre from 2-4 June 2013.
"South Africa will be a great location for the AGM and WATS in 2013. Air connectivity is key to South Africa's economic success, contributing 2.1% to the country's GDP. Along with supporting South Africa's strong tourism sector, air connectivity plays a critical role in maximizing growth opportunities arising from South Africa's BRICS membership and the burgeoning African economy," said Tony Tyler, Director General and CEO of IATA.
South African Airways accepted IATA members' proposal to host its 69th AGM. The announcement was made today at the close of this year's AGM and WATS in Beijing, China.
"We look forward to hosting the global air transport community in South Africa. Holding the AGM and WATS on African soil will focus the global industry's attention on the tremendous opportunities as trade and tourism links are being strengthened within the continent and to new and traditional markets beyond," said Siza Mzimela, South African Airways CEO.
The aviation and aerospace sectors contribute about ZAR51 billion (approx USD 6,07 billion) which is equal to 2.1% South Africa's GDP. This activity supports over 227,000 South African jobs. The bulk of this contribution is driven by commercial airline transport.
Along with shining a spotlight on Africa's opportunities, the AGM and WATS will provide a forum for discussing its challenges. "Growth in Africa is impeded by regulatory burdens and a poor safety record compounded by the high fuel prices in many parts of the continent. IATA is working across the continent with governments, regulators and airlines to improve safety, sustainability and competitiveness. Holding the AGM and WATS in Cape Town will provide a prominent platform to address these issues and challenges," said Tyler.
This year's AGM and WATS in Beijing attracted some 750 airline industry leaders representing IATA's 242 member airlines. It drew a further 350 journalists representing major media outlets from around the world.
"The IATA AGM and WATS is a unique marketing and publicity opportunity for our industry, for Cape Town and for South Africa. Significantly, it takes place at the same time as our country is rolling out a new national infrastructure development programme. This will position South Africa to play a vital role driving trade, business and tourism on the continent together with current and developing markets in Brazil, Russia, India & China. In turn this promises to create jobs and tackle poverty and inequality in South Africa," added Ms Mzimela.
This will be third time that the IATA AGM is held in Africa. Previous IATA AGM's held in Cairo, Egypt (1946) and in Nairobi, Kenya (1991).