Passengers irked over delay at PE

2013-04-03 00:00

‘THE 10-minute airport’, as they pride themselves on their web page, turned out to be a 25-hour airport ordeal for an angry passenger after his flight from Port Elizabeth to Durban was delayed by a day on Sunday.

Zayne Botha had arrived at the PE International Airport at 9.30 am to catch the 11.05 am SAA flight back to Durban.

He had been in Plettenberg Bay for work over the Easter weekend and was looking forward to enjoying the tail end of Easter Sunday with his family back home. “Unfortunately it was not to be,” said Botha, a freelance cameraman.

Botha said around lunch they were notified that their original flight had been cancelled and were put on a 4 pm flight.

“This was the case for every flight regardless of airline. So the wait continued,” he said.

He said at 8 pm it was announced that all flights were cancelled until the next morning. “The problem was said to be bad weather; in all honesty I have seen planes land and take off in weather that made those particular conditions seem like a perfect summer’s day,” said Botha.

He said, based on the fact that the problem was “an act of god”, the delayed passengers were told that SAA would not be paying for accommodation for those stranded, and there were hundreds of them.

Another passenger, Ryan Logie, also a freelance cameraman, said he missed his first proper Easter with his daughter, which was very frustrating.

He said they were in the dark about what was going on. “During this ordeal we did not even get drinks and we had to pay for our accommodation, while those travelling with the British Airways were provided for,” said Logie.

Airport manager Azad Cassim said, “We can confirm that we did experience problems with our Instrument Landing System (ILS) on runway 8, however, the cancellations were a direct result of adverse weather conditions.”

He said the minimum requirement for an aircraft to land with the current ILS system on the runway was 300 ft cloud base or more. “We can confirm that the cloud base was 200 ft after the failure of the ILS system which means that the aircraft was unable to land in those conditions,” said Cassim.

He said the safety of passengers was the priority of both the airports and the airlines and this would not be compromised.

“The ILS system is a sophisticated and highly regulated system to aid with aircraft landings and has a system embedded to actively monitor the system for safety reasons,” said Cassim.

He said should any parameters not be within the required safety parameters it would automatically switch off for safety reasons. “The ILS is required to be inspected, calibrated and certified by the South African Civil Aviation authority every three months, and we can confirm that this was last done on March 4, 2013.”

He said Airports Company South Africa apologises for the delays experienced by passengers.

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