SA won’t ground Emirates flights – dept

2014-11-16 14:01

The department of transport has refuted a report that Emirates airline flights would be grounded in South Africa, pending a meeting with a UAE minister.

“These rumours are quite unfortunate and regrettable,” said transport department spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso.

“That’s not the spirit in which we are having the conversations with the UAE ...

“Whoever is spreading those rumours has the responsibility of proving them”.

The Sunday Times reported that on Friday an “instruction” was issued that United Arab Emirates Economy Minister Bin Al Saeed Mansoori was to attend a meeting with Transport Minister Dipuo Peters tomorrow, failing which, Emirates flights would be grounded.

According to the newspaper, three weeks ago, Emirates obtained a court order compelling the transport department to honour a written authorisation for the addition of a fourth daily flight in South Africa.

The department apparently agreed to this in writing but later retracted, saying due process had not been followed, the Sunday Times article detailed.

Today, Rikhotso told Sapa that “confidential” bilateral talks between the two countries were under way.

He said the possibility of holding a meeting had been discussed, “but I cannot confirm when [this would be for]“.

He said talks between the countries were taking place “in a spirit of co-operation” and to “ensure that there are no disruptions to the service being provided by Emirates”.

The outcome of the meetings would be shared “at an appropriate time”.

Rikhotso said he did not know about a claim in the Sunday Times article that the department was keen to partner with Etihad airlines, which is also based in the UAE.

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