Local business yet to feel effects of Airlink’s grounding

2010-01-05 00:00

BUSINESSPEOPLE have yet to feel the inconvenience of having their flights re-routed via Durban.

So said the chief executive officer of Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business (PCB), Andrew Layman, yesterday when asked to comment on the effects that the grounding of SA Airlink aircraft has had on business.

“Give it a week or two and then see the effects. Although some businesspeople have been frustrated with Airlink for some time now, they do also have their supporters,” he said.

The acting manager for municipal enterprise, Dr Julie Dyer, told The Witness that December and January are traditionally quiet months for Oribi Airport as the passenger numbers dwindle significantly.

This is because the local airport caters mostly for businesspeople and government employees who go on leave during this period, she said.

“We don’t get holiday traffic like Durban, and Airlink generally reduces flights in December and January anyway because it’s generally a quiet time.”

Dyer said that at most five people a day request bookings and the implications could have been a lot worse had the the grounding been ordered at any other time during the year.

She says they have been communicating constantly with the aircraft company in order to establish when flights will resume locally.

“We had a meeting on New Year’s Eve and we’ve asked for at least one flight a day. We’re working on it very hard but it’s in their hands and there’s nothing we can do to change the situation.”

Councillor Pops Chetty, who chairs the economic development and growth commitee, says SA Airlink promised to get back to them this week and a statement outlining the way forward will be issued in due course.

“… we’re not sitting back and a Plan B will be put in place,” Chetty said.

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