SA flights: most flights still grounded, but Virgin Airlines lifts hopes for two PMB women

2010-04-21 00:00

MOST South African flights to and from Europe remain suspended because of the cloud of volcanic ash in European airspace.

But Eleanor Pienaar, a graphic designer at The Witness, said her airline, Virgin Atlantic, was “hopeful that they might start flying out” yesterday evening.

Felicity Balcomb of Pietermaritzburg, who is booked on the same flight to London as Pienaar, was hoping to fly to meet her daughter who had an operation yesterday.

“If I can get there by Wednesday it will be wonderful, but we will only really be sure when we are on the plane,” said Balcomb.

The two praised Virgin Atlantic for keeping them updated about the flight situation and paying for their hotel rooms and meals over the last six days.

“They have really cared for us,” said Balcomb.

Another company that is doing all it can to get planes back into the sky is Airbus.

Spokesperson Linden Birns said the aircraft manufacturer has taken advantage of scheduled development test flights that have been launched to assess the impact of the volcanic ash on the aircraft engines and their flight systems.

Britian’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office is also trying to help stranded passengers.

Gary Benham, spokesperson for the British High Commission in South Africa, said: “Consular staff in South Africa are providing assistance in a number of ways, including visiting airports and advising British nationals who have run out of funds.”

SAA flights are still delayed, but SAA group corporate affairs said in a statement it is still “monitoring the situation in conjunction with European air traffic control and will resume operations between South Africa and the United Kingdom as soon as conditions are deemed safe for air travel”.

The flights affected are SAA flight SA3236 from Johannesburg to London, SA3237 from London to Johannesburg, SA260 Johannesburg to Frankfurt, SA264 Johannesburg to Munich, SA261 Frankfurt to Johannesburg and SA265 Munich to Johannesburg.

 

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