Airlink must explain itself, say Ndebele

2009-12-12 11:38


SA Airlink will be given a chance to explain itself to Transport

Minister Sbu 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.

“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 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 Tuesday 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


Meanwhile, Beeld newspaper reported on Saturday that two SA Express

planes could not take off on Friday due to technical problems.

SA Express spokesman 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.

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