Velvet Sky flights delayed amid allegations airline is struggling to pay its bills

2012-02-23 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Flights by the new low-cost airline Velvet Sky were delayed yesterday amid allegations that it was struggling to pay its bills.

The airline’s planes were yesterday forbidden to take off after South African Airways Technical (SAAT) refused to carry out further maintenance work.

An SAA spokesperson confirmed that Velvet Sky had not paid its bills.

“We have been negotiating with Velvet Sky for quite a while, but talks are now over,” the spokesperson said.

“We will not provide further services to Velvet Sky.”

SAAT is a subsidiary of SAA.

Velvet Sky CEO Gary Webb denied that the company was in financial difficulty.

“We had two delays yesterday, but flights should be back to normal tomorrow morning [Thursday],” he said.

The company had a “contractual dispute” with SAAT.

“We will meet them as soon as possible to sort out the issue,” he said.

He said Velvet Sky provided accommodation to stranded passengers last night.

The airline began selling tickets in March 2011 and within three days had taken 9 000 bookings.

It was registered as a company in 2008 and was financed by private investors.

The airline uses three Boeing 737-300s with a capacity of 148 passengers and initally offered flights between Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg, before later adding flights to Polokwane. This route was suspended last month.

In the last 20 years, about 10 airlines have gone bankrupt in South Africa, most recently Nationwide in 2008.

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