Airport’s image ‘impaired’ by airline saga

2016-05-06 12:30
(Fly Go Air, Facebook)

(Fly Go Air, Facebook)

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­Pietermaritzburg - The reputation of the ­Pietermaritzburg Airport may have been tarnished after low-cost airline FlyGoAir caused an uproar among their passengers when they were left stranded at the airport.

The airline, which was scheduled to operate flights between Pietermaritzburg and O.R. Tambo International Airport, left a trail of angry passengers.

In an internal audit report to the Msunduzi executive committee yesterday, it was revealed that ­FlyGoAir’s cancelation of all its operations at Pietermaritzburg Airport may have “impaired” the image of the ­airport and “negatively affected ­potential passengers and potential ­revenue at the airport”.

According to the report, airport manager Alvin Naidoo said FlyGoAir did not own any aircraft and only leased them to service their demand.

“We were also advised that FlyGoAir had a one-week lease on their leased ­aeroplanes, which resulted in the airline operating for one week only,” the report read.

The city was left out of pocket after the municipality constructed office space at the airport for FlyGoAir.

The municipality also experienced a loss of revenue as FlyGoAir did not pay their lease for their one-week operation and the notice period.

The internal audit report was only noted and not discussed by the councillors.

The report also said the South ­African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) issued a licence to FlyGoAir “without clearing issues with the Pietermaritzburg Airport management”.

Naidoo told The Witness yesterday that FlyGoAir’s counters have been cleared of their branding and the office space created for them is still not ­occupied.

The Witness has reported on the ­low-cost airline’s quick downfall since October last year.

FlyGoAir CEO Reg Sivsankar openly accused his rival, SA Airlink, on ­Facebook of apparently “sabotaging” his Pietermaritzburg operations by tampering with his computers to steal his clients while changing airline ­schedules last October.

However, within a day angry and frustrated passengers contacted The Witness relaying their horrible ­experiences with FlyGoAir.

Some were left stranded at airports with no plane in sight. Some passengers who booked flights from the Pietermaritzburg Airport also relayed stories of how they were taken to Durban in the early hours of the ­morning to get a ­different flight with ­another airline.

As the complaints continued to stream in, Sivsankar stopped blaming SA Airlink and turned on the ­passengers, claiming it was their fault as they had not been checking in at the correct counters.

The Witness then revealed that the airline could only fly after paying for its fuel upfront. However, in December the airline suspended all flights.

The Witness also reported that SA Airlink claimed in court papers that ­FlyGoAir was wrongly trying to portray their legal dispute as a case of “David versus Goliath”.

The row between the two airlines, ­involving allegations of tampering with computers, anti-competitive ­behaviour and industrial espionage, is back in court this month.

SA Airlink had approached the high court urgently for an order that ­FlyGoAir retract the allegations on ­Facebook. These were that SA Airlink had tampered with its computers and indulged in anti-competitive behaviour and ­industrial espionage, and from making any other “false and unsubstantiated” allegations against SA Airlink online, in print or on social media.

SA Airlink also wanted FlyGoAir to deliver a letter to The Witness confirming that published allegations by its CEO Sivsanker, were “false and unsubstantiated”.

Sivsanker said in replying papers that FlyGoAir had already removed the allegedly offensive Facebook post before the case came to court.

He also claimed there were “cogent reasons” for accusing SA Airlink of tampering with its booking systems, which are still under investigation by the SA Police Service.

He accused SA Airlink of trying to “pre-empt” the outcome of these investigations through the court, and alleged that from the outset when SAAirlink discovered that FlyGoAir intended to launch a regional airline in competition with it, it “took steps to prevent the business getting off the ground”.

Sivsanker replied to a message from The Witness asking him to comment with an SMS that read: “We are currently in the process of bringing a high court application against The Witness and proceed with a damage claim with regards any publications.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  airport

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