Doug Birch/LONDON

Foreign airlines flying to South Africa will have to pay fees totalling almost $3 million over the next 18 months as a contribution to an "aviation safety charge", according to the South African Civil Aviation Authority.

The fees replace a fuel levy implemented in January by the CAA to fund the promotion of aviation safety, management of the national airspace committee and route planning over Africa. The levy had to be scrapped for foreign scheduled carriers after they refused to pay, arguing that bilateral air service agreements with South Africa forbid such levies.

The new charge has been agreed by the International Air Transport Association, but foreign carriers object to financially supporting the South African CAA, saying they fund their own aviation authorities.

"It has been agreed that a total of $1.3 million will be charged for the CAA's 1 April 1999-31 March 2000 financial year, but will be collected over seven months from 1 September," says South African CAA chief executive Trevor Abrahams. The following financial year, $1.5 million will be charged, collected monthly. Foreign scheduled operators that have paid the levy will be credited.

Juan van Rensburg, chairman of the South African Board of Airline Representatives, says: "The safety charge would be applied in addition to existing air traffic and navigational service charges, using the Eurocontrol air traffic formula."

Source: Flight International