By Garth Calitz
The South Africa Civil Aviation Authority hosted a glitzy function at the Focus Rooms in Sandton to acknowledge outstanding performance in the aviation industry. This was the third instalment of the awards ceremony since it was first held in 2018. The awards were put on hold during the three years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The evening was kicked off with a stunning performance by the Elegant Experience Ballet accompanied by the Chamber Orchestra of Johannesburg. Everyone was then welcomed by the masters of Ceremonies, Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp and Peter “Mashata” Mabuse.
Ms Poppy Khoza, the Director of Civil Aviation officially took to the podium to welcome everyone and explained the purpose of the CAIA Awards, saying: “When the idea of recognising excellence in our industry was birthed several years ago, it took us a few more years to make the awards a reality. The purpose of these awards is to bring together the aviation industry and our partners in other industries that we interact with to showcase, recognise and celebrate those members of the industry who have shown consistency and commitment in promoting aviation safety, security, environmental sustainability, transformation, innovation, research, and development amongst others.”
Mr Ernest Khosa Chairperson of the SACAA Board offered a message of support to Ms Poppy Khoza and the CAA as a whole. “When we recognise the people and processes that contribute to a safe and secure civil aviation system, we increase the opportunities of establishing a civil aviation industry that is sustainable and will survive long after all of us in this room are gone. According to behavioural theorists, when we encourage positive behaviour, we stand to improve our systems more than if we do nothing.” Mr Khoza said.
The Honourable Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, Minster of Transport, was invited to take to the podium to deliver the keynote address, in her address she congratulated the SACAA on celebrating twenty-five years of existence, in a year where they recorded a 91.11% rating from the International Civil Aviation Organization after an audit conducted earlier in the year. This audit confirmed South Africa as having the best systems on the continent and among the leading twenty States in the world.
“Let me also take this moment to congratulate the SACAA on this wonderful evening of celebrating the industry, and to further wish the country’s civil aviation Regulator continued success for the next 25 years. To the SACAA Board, it is refreshing to bask in your success,” the Minister said. “While there will be a number of men and women who walk up to this stage to collect various forms of recognition, to me, everyone who has entered these awards has contributed one way or the other to the state of aviation safety and security in South Africa.”
The adjudication process was then explained by Mr Arthur Bradshaw who had graciously accepted the task as "head adjudicator" on the panel of six adjudicators for the prestigious awards, Mr Bradshaw was joined on the panel by Mr Jean Franklin Olard, Head of Human Racecourses at the African Civil Aviation Commission, Ms Siew Huay Tan, Director at Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, Mr Themba Thabethe, Accident and Incident Investigations SACAA, Prof Ntombizozuko Dyani-Mhango SACAA board member and HOD Public Law Department at the University of Pretoria and Mr King Sotshede Chief Audit Executive SACAA. The adjudication results were then verified by Mr Theo Kodisang representing Khumalo and Mabuya Auditors who were appointed to oversee the process.
With all the formalities out of the way it was time for the awards, first up it was the award for Aviation Safety, FlySafair was second runner-up, Cape Town International was adjudged first runner-up and the winner was Lanseria International Airport.
The Aircraft Operator Award was taken by FlySafair with ExecuJet Aviation in the first runner-up position.
With the Aviation Innovation Award ExecuJet Aviation and FlySafair swapped positions with the former taking the honours.
The first runner-up in the Aviation Maintenance Organisation Award medium to large was Airlink and the winner was FlySafair.
Mr Elmar Conradie, CEO of FlySafair, was named Aviation Professional of the Year with Itumeleng Mokoena in the first runner-up position and Matita Shabalala in the second runner-up position.
The award for People Development was once again contested by ExecuJet and FlySafair with ExecutJet coming out tops in this one.
At this point, dinner was served to the wonderful sounds of the Chamber Orchestra of Johannesburg and once again they were joined by the amazing dancers of Elegant Experience Ballet.
Once dinner was enjoyed it was time to announce the winners of the Aviation Customer Services Award, once again it was a two-horse race between ExecuJet and FlySafair, in this category ExecuJet took top honours.
Fighting it out for the Aviation Research and Development was Forced Landing Into Trees who edeged out the RID Team from Air Traffic Navigation Services.
The General and Sport Aviation Award was presented to Morningstar Flying Club.
Two of the leading aircraft manufacturers in South Africa contested the Aviation Manufacturing Organisation Award, Sling Aircraft outpaced BatHawk to take the Award.
The board members and senior management of the SACAA were then invited to the stage along with the minister to celebrate the CAA’s twenty-fifth birthday, a massive cake was brought onto the stage that was symbolically cut by Minister Chikunga.
The Award for Aviation Transformation was closely contested by the Link programme at Airlink, FlySafair and the eventual victor Air Traffic and Navigation Services.
King Shaka International Airport managed to outperform OR Tambo International Airport and FlySafair to walk away with the Aviation Sustainability and Environment Award.
ExecuJet and FlySafair were the finalists and once again, were competing for the Aviation Security Award, ExecuJet came out tops in this category.
The proud team from Cape Town International Airport were the recipients of the Airport Achievement Award.
The special award from the Director of Civil Aviation, Ms Poppy Khoza, for Outstanding Contribution to South African Aviation went to Felix Gosher and his wife Belinda for their massive effort in organising the Children’s Flight in South Africa and Zambia as well as the Elders Flight.
For the first time, the SACAA invited members of the public to have a voice and vote for their Best Airline and Best Airport under the Public Vote category where the prize was an all-expenses paid holiday to a destination of the choice of two winners within South Africa. The two lucky winners drawn from the pot were Divan Erasmus (Best Airport) and Clovis Rousseau (Best Airline). The Public voted for OR Tambo International Airport as the Best Airport and FlySafair as their leading airline of choice.
FlySafair was then crowned Aviation Company of the Year, but it must be noted that ExecuJet Aviation couldn’t have been far behind with the amount of awards they took this year.
Dessert was then served and the dance floor was opened by Duo Afriqué Band so the winners could celebrate late into the night.