Airlink 'must explain itself'

2009-12-12 14:30
Johannesburg - SA Airlink will be given a chance to explain itself to Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele next week, the transport department said on Saturday.

The minister was given a report on Airlink on Friday night, which was compiled by the SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA).

He was expected to discuss its findings next week.

"On 11 December we received a report which forms part of the general audit carried out by SACAA on Airlink. On Monday, we will announce our decision on the matter," Ndebele said.

"In terms of the law we have to present the report to Airlink for the airline to provide answers and responses to the questions asked by a probe of this nature.

Clear the air

"These are standard questions which assist in the determination of airworthiness and operational health of an airline. Once we have met with the airline through our agency, the SACAA, we will then pronounce ourselves on the matter," added Ndebele.

The minister said it was "imperative to clear the air" as soon as possible.

An Airlink flight, carrying 30 passengers, overshot the runway at George Airport on Monday and landed near the N2 freeway. The flight operator has had three accidents in the past three months, one of which claimed the life of pilot Alistair Freeman.

Options under consideration by Ndebele include grounding the airline, granting the airline time to sort out its matters, or granting the airline a clean bill of health.

"We will always be concerned with any incident and accident which threatens the lives of our people. It is our responsibility to increase levels of safety in all modes including buses, taxis, rail, sea and air," he said.

SA Express planes delayed

Meanwhile, Beeld newspaper reported on Saturday that two SA Express planes could not take off on Friday due to technical problems.

SA Express spokesperson Dileseng Koetle confirmed that two flights were delayed “due to technical problems”.

“The safety of our passengers is a priority to us and we did not want to place their lives in danger,” said Koetle.

Affected passengers were accommodated at hotels near the airport and were expected to depart for George on Saturday morning.

- SAPA
Read more on:    sa airlink  |  sibusiso ndebele  |  air travel  |  george crash-landing
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