Johannesburg - SA Airways (SAA) is an important contributor to the country's economy, acting CEO Nico Bezuidenhout said on Tuesday.
SAA continues to answer its mandate regarding national development, Bezuidenhout said in a statement.
"In South Africa alone, the value of SAA extends well beyond its balance sheet, with the airline functioning as a substantial economic enabler."
He said a recent Oxford Economics study found that SAA, SAA Technical, SAA Cargo, the airline Mango, Air Chefs and the SA Travel Centre collectively contributed R3.6bn through direct output to the country's economy.
About R4bn was indirectly contributed through its supply chain, and R1.6bn through spending on employees and respective supply chains.
In addition, there was R12.4bn in benefits through tourism.
Bezuidenhout said the airline's total contribution to the economy was R21.6bn.
"Equal to SAA's contribution to GDP [gross domestic product] is the fact that the group supports 34 000 jobs in South Africa."
He said 11 500 jobs were directly supported by the group, while 16 400 were in the SAA supply chain, and 6300 were supported through spending by the group and its supply chain.
Bezuidenhout said a sound policy framework was a critical factor for a state-owned airline, since it allowed the aviation sector "to optimise its economic contribution".
"Infrastructure development, such as airports, the growth of airlines, air traffic management, and bilateral air service agreements, among others, must be optimised and efficiencies improved to facilitate the growth of a state's aviation sector.
"Increased growth will lead to a far greater catalytic contribution to domestic and continental GDP, job creation, skills development, and tax base growth."
He said other examples of "whole of state" aviation policies had succeeded in Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Ethiopia.