South Africa - Country Commercial Guide
Last published date:



Table: Total Market Size for Aviation; 2020-2024 





Total Market Size  110,000 130,000 150,000 170,000 
Total Local Production  16,000 15.000 15,000 15,000 
Total Exports  30,000 30,000 30,000 35,000 
Total Imports  200,000 170,000 200,000 210,000 
Imports from the U.S.  130,000 140,000 180,000 200,000 
Exchange Rate: 1 $  15.9 16.00   

Unit: $thousand 


Total Market Size = (Total Local Production + Total Imports) – (Total Exports) 

Note: Above figures exclude the value of the aviation defense procurements. 

Date Source: Above figures are unofficial estimates obtained from industry sources. 

In 2016, South Africa ranked 76, after Greece, for global U.S. aircraft parts exports. However, the growth of commercial and general aviation in southern Africa has slowed down significantly; high operating costs and a sluggish economy are taking their toll on discount airliners and general aviation. The launch of the African Union’s Single African Transport Air Market, which comprises 28 countries including South Africa, in 2018, provided airlines an opportunity to increase their operations on the continent. The biggest growth is expected in other Sub-Saharan African states as they ramp-up up their capacity to meet long-term growth in passenger travel and air freight. There has been a downturn in airborne offshore utility and mineral deposit surveying done by South African operators in southern and central Africa over the past years. Unmanned aerial systems (UAVs) / drones are however making steady progress for a host of utility and security applications.

South Africa-based civil aviation environment is facing significant challenges to long-term viability. The long-anticipated sustainable turn-around of State-Owned national carrier South African Airways (SAA) remains unclear, despite a qualified commitment from South African private equity consortium Takatso of majority shareholder Harith Global Partners made in 2021 to buy 51 percent equity in SAA as a Strategic Equity Partner (SEP). The discount brand of SAA, Mango, has ceased operations. In June 2022, a privately-owned carrier Kulula and British Airways brands accounting for 40% market share, went into provisional liquidation and ceased operations after operating for more than 75 years.  Other private operators FlySafair, Airlink, and Lift are still operating. Delta and United offer regular non-stop flights to Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

The best prospects for U.S. suppliers are:

  • Professional Drone Componentry, Systems, and Training Ground Support Equipment
  • Passenger Transport Vehicles
  • Cargo De-Grouping and Logistics
  • Air Traffic Control
  • Security screening systems


There are opportunities in training systems to upgrade the skills pool. New demand for commercial and general aviation solutions from the United States are expected in the following fields:

  • Engine Management Systems
  • Precision Tooling
  • Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) Certification


Africa Aerospace and Defense (AAD) 2024 

Land, Sea and Air Systems Show 

18 – 22 September 2024 

AFB Waterkloof, Pretoria 


For More Information, the U.S. Commercial Service in Johannesburg, South Africa, can be contacted via e-mail at:

phone: +27 11 290 3208

or visit our website: