Comair aircraft grounding a concern for SA Tourism Minister

Comair aircraft grounding a concern for SA Tourism Minister

The indefinite suspension of Comair’s Air’s Kulula.com and British Airways Operation Certificate (AOC) by the South African Civil Aviation Authority SACAA has left thousands of passengers stranded.

Comair flights equates to about 40% of the country’s aviation capacity. Comair operates the budget airline Kulula.com and the local British Airways franchise.

Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu expressed her concern due to the impact of Comair aircraft grounding, urging travel safety to lift tourism.

“This comes at a bad time as families are preparing for school holidays and holidaymakers are planning for Easter holiday getaways. However, our main concern is the effect this will have on greater tourism and the entire hospitality value chain, but not at the expense of air travel safety,” Minister Sisulu said.

Sisulu also raised  concern at the increase in airfares on domestic routes following the SACCA announcement.

“I would like the issues between Comair and SACAA to be resolved soon, as the tourism industry cannot afford any further discouragements,” said Sisulu.

On Sunday SACAA said it had undertaken the review because of the recent spate of safety incidents at Comair. The SACAA wanted to confirm Comair’s compliance with applicable Civil Aviation Regulation, and at that time, Comair would need to show that its risk and safety management systems were effective in managing potential hazards, within 24 hours However the Association still retained that the airline flashed risks that Comair that would need immediate attention.

SACAA said after working through the night to review the evidence received from Comair, it raised three level 1 findings and one level 2 finding.

A level 1 finding shows an immediate risk to safety and security, and it must be closed with immediate effect. Level 2 findings must be closed within 7 days.

“The SACAA is fully committed to ensuring that the operator is back in the air and has dedicated a full team to assess and review the evidence as it gets submitted. The commitment to safety, in this case, supersedes any other need, and this is to ensure that South Africa maintains its safety record of having ZERO fatal airline accidents,” said the regulator in a statement.

Comair responded that it was planning to resume Kulula.com and British flights by Sunday midday, this in the midst of their discussions with the Civil Aviation Authority to lift the suspension

“We are doing everything possible to get the suspension lifted. We continue to engage constructively with the SACAA and are working hard to provide the CAA with the additional information it requires,” said Comair CEO Glenn Orsmond.

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