Chamber of Business to engage municipality over airport safety report

2017-08-25 17:58
Airport. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

Airport. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

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Pietermaritzburg - The Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business (PCB) will seek an audience with Msunduzi Municipality following a report that raised concerns about the local airport.  

PCB CEO Melanie Veness admitted to concerns over the report that was tabled during the meeting of Msunduzi Executive Committee (Exco) on Thursday, which fingered the appointment of non-aviation trained contractors and use of inferior materials when maintaining the airport as posing a safety risk to users of the Pietermaritzburg Airport.

According to the report which focused on operations, aircraft and passenger movement, compliance and maintenance for April 2017, seven incidents were reported during the month with two flight diversions due to weather.

"Overall flight safety is compromised by the infrastructure collapse and the assignment of non-aviation trained nor experienced contractors," said the report which was hastily put away despite protests from the Democratic Alliance Exco members.

In addition to this, there were major faults with airfield which were due to cabling.

"The use of inferior quality materials and the lack of understanding of the specifications has compromised the entire airfield lighting system," the report stressed.

Important asset

The budget allocation also presented a challenge and put limitations on maintenance.

"I have contacted the municipality and will endeavour to engage as soon as possible on this matter," said the PCB CEO on Friday.

The report pointed out that the seven flight incidents recorded in April included an engine problem, bird strike, electrical failure and landing gear indication.

"The issues raised in the report regarding the airport are alarming, given the critical role that the airport plays in connecting our city with Johannesburg and Cape Town, both for leisure and for business," she added.

Veness stressed that the airport was an important asset to the city and every effort should be made to ensure passenger safety.

In April, there were 12 076 passengers who used the airport in April with a total of 1 123 flights and this, according to Veness, underlined the importance of the airport.

Deputy city manager Dr Ray Ngcobo under whose department the airport falls allayed any fears that there were problems with the airport.

DA Exco member Glen MacArthur raised concerns over the swift handling of the report, which he insisted demanded a thorough look.

Committee chairperson of the meeting who is also Msunduzi deputy mayor Thobani Zuma was adamant that the report had been thoroughly dealt with, and insisted that the meeting moved ahead.

Veness said despite the issues raised by the report, she remained confident that SA Airlink would not continue to fly if conditions were unsafe.

"Since they are operating I must assume current conditions are still sufficiently safe," she concluded.

Recently a bigger jet was introduced at the airport by Airlink.

Read more on:    durban  |  air travel  |  service delivery

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