Airline forced to halt flights

2010-05-07 00:00

AIRLINE Kulula.com has been forced to cancel 10 flights since May 1 due to alleged problems at the new King Shaka International Airport (KSIA).

The firm confirmed that, in just a week, 700 passengers flying in and out of the airport had been affected by the cancellations.

According to kulula.com, air traffic controllers at KSIA have yet to be fully trained, thus limiting night flights.

It appears that flights after 10 pm and before 8 am have been cancelled.

Noel Skinner, head of airports for kulula.com, said late-night flights, which were confirmed months in advance, will need to be grounded.

“Our flight schedules were approved months ago and thousands of our customers have already booked these flights, which will now have to be cancelled,” he said.

Before KSIA was set to be officially opened, kulula.com voiced concerns over the readiness of the airport, especially regarding imminent high flight volumes for 2010.

Speaking on behalf of kulua.com, Pheliswa Mayekiso said the company understood that training for air traffic controllers could only commence once KSIA was operational.

“What we don’t understand is why we were only notified of this fact on April 21, 10 days prior to the airport opening,” she said.

Seats for cancelled flights were sold as early as October 2009.

Airport Company South Africa’s public relations officer for KSIA, Colin Naidoo, said cancelled flights cannot be blamed on the airport. “Airlines cancel flights all the time and that is their prerogative. To say it is the airport that is not ready is incorrect,” he said.

Although Naidoo said the running of operations at KSIA is ultimately Acsa’s responsibilty, he added that Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) is in charge of air traffic control. ATNS were unable to provide comment at the time of going to press.

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