South Africa’s Tourism Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, has chimed in on the indefinite grounding of Comair flights.
Her comments come as a result of the South African Civil Aviation Authority’s (SACAA) surprise decision to suspend Comair’s Air Operation Certificate (AOC) as a result of a number of safety concerns and dangerous incidents. The carrier’s AOC was initially suspended for 24 hours until SACAA unexpectedly changed its mind and extended it indefinitely after conducting an extensive in-person inspection of the carrier.
This decision has left thousands of passengers around the country stranded and scrambling for new options. Comair flights equate to about 40% of South Africa’s aviation capacity. Comair operates the popular budget airline Kulula.com and the local British Airways franchise.
Sisulu offered the following thoughts on the ongoing drama:
“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. I would like the issues between Comair and SACAA to be resolved soon, as the tourism industry cannot afford any further discouragements.”
The minister also expressed concern at the increase in airfares on domestic routes following the SACCA announcement. This price surge will certainly hurt the pockets of Easter holidaymakers!
HOPE REMAINS HIGH
While the SACAA itself has not shared any further information on the situation, they did publicly retweet from an account that had praised them on their extensive safety efforts.
Both Kululu and BA have not been issuing refunds, rather giving credit to the value of the ticket fare for a six-month period. All parties involved remain hopeful that a positive resolution will be reached and that Kulula and BA will be operational in time for Easter weekend in April. If the suspension is not lifted by then, many South Africans will be forced to spend the holidays away from loved ones.. or look into other modes of transportation!