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Air carrier operations

Operating authorisation

What procedural and documentary requirements must air carriers meet in order to operate in your jurisdiction?

In order to operate, air carriers must hold an air service licence and an air operating certificate listing the relevant aircraft. Carriers must be registered on the South African civil aircraft register established under the Civil Aviation Regulations and maintained by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA).

Applications for the registration of an aircraft and the issuance of a certificate of registration should be made to the director of civil aviation and the SACAA.

  • in the case of an aircraft last registered in a foreign country, either:
    • a certificate or notification of cancellation from the appropriate authority of the state or territory in which the aircraft was last registered; or
    • a certificate or notification of non-registration from the appropriate authority of the state or territory from which the aircraft is imported; evidence of ownership or suitable affidavit stating that the applicant is the owner of the aircraft; the supporting clearance importation document from the South African Revenue Service issued under Section 38, 39 or 44 of the Customs and Excise Act; and payment of the appropriate prescribed fee;
  • if the aircraft is to be registered in the name of an individual, proof of the individual’s identity;
  • if the aircraft is to be registered in the name of a company, close corporation or trust, the corporate and/or founding documentation of that entity; or
  • in the case of an amateur-built or production-built aircraft, a copy of the build number authorisation issued by the director of civil aviation.

The commissioner may exempt an applicant from these requirements if satisfied that such exemption will not jeopardise aviation safety.

Ownership and control

Do any nationality or other requirements or restrictions apply to ownership or control of air carriers operating in your jurisdiction?

Yes – for a carrier to be registered on the civil aircraft register, it must be registered in the name of a South African resident. Pursuant to the Air Services Licencing Act and the International Air Services Act, a licence will be issued only if the applicant:

  • is a natural person and resident of South Africa; or
  • if not a natural person, is incorporated in South Africa and at least 75% of the voting rights in respect of such person are held by residents of South Africa.

Financial requirements

What financial thresholds must air carriers meet to obtain operating authorisation?

Although no financial thresholds are prescribed, applicants must provide sufficient evidence to the Air Service Licensing Council to prove that they are financially capable of operating an air service. An applicant must submit audited financial accounts of the last completed financial year and/or certain financial information to enable the council to make a decision.

Insurance coverage

What is the required level of insurance coverage for air carrier operations?

The insurance requirements are specified in the Air Services Licensing Act, the International Air Services Act and the Civil Aviation Act. Registered aircraft owners or operators must have insurance for damage or loss caused by the aircraft to any person or property on land or water.

International Air Services Regulations Under the International Air Services Regulations (Regulation 5, Insurance), the required level of insurance coverage in respect of passenger liability is R1 million per seat (irrespective of the category of aircraft) for the total number of seats authorised by the certificate of airworthiness applicable to the aircraft.

In respect of third-party liability, the required level of insurance coverage is:

  • R50 million, in relation to an aircraft with a maximum certificated mass exceeding 20,000 kilograms (kg);
  • R20 million, in relation to an aircraft with a maximum certificated mass between 5,700kg and 20,000kg;
  • R10 million, in relation to an aircraft with a maximum certificated mass between 2,700kg and 5,700kg; and
  • R2.5 million, in relation to an aircraft with a maximum certificated mass of 2,700kg or less.

Domestic Air Services Regulations Under the Domestic Air Services Regulations (Regulation 5, Insurance), the required level of insurance coverage in respect of passenger liability is R1 million per seat (irrespective of the category of aircraft, excluding microlight aircraft) for the total number of seats authorised by the certificate of airworthiness applicable to the aircraft. This excludes where the carrier licence does not authorise the transport of passengers for reward.

In respect of cargo liability, the required coverage is R50 per kg of cargo calculated according to the total possible mass of cargo that the aircraft can carry. This also excludes where the carrier licence does not authorise the transport of cargo for reward.

In respect of third-party liability, the required level of coverage is:

  • R50 million, in relation to an aircraft with a maximum certificated mass exceeding 20,000kg;
  • R20 million, in relation to an aircraft with a maximum certificated mass between 5,700kg and 20,000kg;
  • R10 million, in relation to an aircraft with a maximum certificated mass between 2,700kg and 5,700kg;
  • R2.5 million, in relation to an aircraft with a maximum certificated mass of 2,700kg or less (excluding microlight aircraft); and
  • R500,000, in relation to a microlight aircraft.

Safety requirements

What safety requirements apply to air carrier operations, including with regard to professional and technical certifications?

Under the Civil Aviation Regulations, all air carriers must be subject to a safety management system. The system must address:

  • safety policy and objectives;
  • safety risk management strategies;
  • safety assurance agendas; and
  • safety promotion schemes.

Environmental obligations

What environmental obligations apply to air carrier operations?

At present, no legislation has been enacted in relation to environmental obligations applicable to air carrier operations. However, there has been extensive discussion in relation to such obligations, culminating in the White Paper on National Civil Aviation Policy 2017.

Air traffic control

How are air traffic control services regulated in your jurisdiction?

Air traffic control services are governed by the Air Traffic and Navigation Services Company Act, under which the Air Traffic and Navigation Services Company SOC Limited is established. The objectives of the company include “the acquisition, establishment, development, provision, maintenance, management, control or operation of air navigation infrastructures, air traffic services or air navigation services”.

Routes

Do any licensing requirements apply to specific routes?

International routes are operated in accordance with the applicable bilateral air service agreement. Section 91.07.1 of the Civil Aviation Regulations, which pertains to “routes and areas of operation”, states that:

the owner or operator of an aircraft shall ensure that operations are only conducted along such routes or within such areas, for which approval or authorisation has been obtained, where required, from the appropriate authority concerned.

Are any public service obligations in place with respect to remote destinations?

No.

Charter services

Do any special provisions apply to charter services?

A charter application must be submitted for a route; however, no other special provisions apply.

Taxes

What taxes apply to the provision of air carrier services?

The taxes that generally apply to businesses operating in South Africa also apply to air carrier services.

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