• Monday, June 17, 2024
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South African Airways inches close to resuming flights 

South African Airways

South African Airways, SAA has been granted renewed operating licences by the SA Civil Aviation Authority (Sacaa), giving the state carrier the green light to commercially operate its aircraft on domestic and international routes.

Flight resumption by the airline will bring relief to Nigerians who count South Africa as one of their preferred vacation destinations although approval of routes does not mean that those routes will be serviced immediately.

According to BusinessDay South Africa, the airline is yet to confirm the resumption of its operations after a lengthy business rescue process.

SAA interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo, however, says the airline could take to the skies again “in just a few weeks”.

Read Also: South African Airways Nears Collapse With Plan to Fire All Staff

“At our Airways Park headquarters, in hangars and at terminals around the country our staff are hard at work finishing the final preparatory phases before we make an official announcement about the exact take-off date,” he said on Wednesday.

Sacaa requires that an operator voluntarily subjects itself to be audited either to be granted an initial licence or for a renewal certification process.

In SAA’s case, the airline temporarily suspended its operations during the business rescue process, which it exited in April.

At that time it was still in possession of an air operator certificate, but the permit expired at the end of June.

A valid air operator certificate means the airline has the required assets, personnel and systems in place to ensure the safety of its employees and customers.

The documents detail the aircraft types that may be used, for which purpose and in which region, according to aviation website Skybrary.

The licence is required by Sacaa to verify that an airline meets all the safety rules and regulations, according to aviation expert Linden Birns.

Operators are furnished with the audit outcome in a report that incorporates findings if any were found.

Operators are then given an opportunity to respond to the findings by submitting a corrective action plan that details how they intend closing such findings, after which Sacaa, if satisfied, will either renew the air operator certificate or will withhold the certificate until all findings are closed as per the applicable regulations, Sacaa says.

SAA airplanes have been grounded since March 2020 while it was undergoing business rescue.

At the start of the rescue process in December 2019, SAA had 44 operational aircraft.

The business rescue plan, adopted by creditors in July last year envisioned that the state-owned carrier’s fleet would have been reduced to 26 by December this year.

After audits of the airline by the regulator, the airline has been granted approval by Sacaa to commercially operate only eight aircraft.

In June, the department of public enterprises named the Takatso consortium as the preferred equity partner, which would be granted a 51% interest in SAA.

The consortium comprises Global Aviation and Harith General Partners.

Takatso chair Tshepo Mahloele is also chair of Arena Holdings, which publishes Business Day and other titles.