Calls to dump PMB’s new jet

2007-12-04 00:00

PASSENGERS who have used the new SA Airlink BAE jet service have had several bad experiences, to the extent that they are calling for the reinstatement of the old “vomit comets”, as contending with the problems encountered are not worth the prestige of having the flights.

In the most recent occurrence on Thursday, passengers were made to wait for an hour on the airport bus to get to the plane after the flight was delayed twice.

When they got to the plane, it was in darkness. Ten minutes before landing, they were told that the plane could not land due to a technical failure. The plane was flown to Durban and passengers had to make their way to Pietermaritzburg, getting home after midnight.

Pietermaritzburg Tourism director Melanie Veness, who was aboard the flight, said that the flight delay and all the technical complications were immensely frustrating and will have a negative impact on tourism.

“We need the Airlink flights to work for tourism as all these delays are having a negative impact on the airport. Word of mouth travels fast and if the delays continue then people will choose to fly from Durban,” Veness said.

She believes that Airlink’s flight problems minimise the city’s chances of benefiting from the 2010 Soccer World Cup boom.

Airlink introduced the bigger jet to offer a better service than the older, smaller Jetstream aircraft on the Pietermaritzburg-Johannesburg route.

Last month, Airlink’s jet flying from the O.R. Tambo airport to Pietermaritzburg was delayed and was then turned back without much explanation.

Passengers were left stranded overnight at the Johannesburg airport. Airlink was criticised for being unco-operative and failing to provide passengers with answers regarding the delays.

When The Witness contacted Karin Murray of Airlink about the delays and diversions, she said that she is aware of the problems and has received complaints from several passengers, but would need to investigate the facts of the recent incident in order to provide The Witness with the correct information.

thabi@witness.co.za

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