UPDATE: SAA is back to normal after grounding over technical compliance issues

South African Airways' flight schedule has returned to normal with the return of most of their grounded aircraft. 

The airline, alongside Comair, grounded some planes in their fleet following an audit by the Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) on South African Airways Technical (SAAT) for non-compliance issues.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Comair and SAA grounding: Protocol inadequacies in SA aviation come to light as 5 core concerns in SAAT audit unpacked

Twenty-five of SAA's fleet were identified to undergo a compliance verification process required by SACAA - so far 21 of them have been returned to service after completing the process, while four are undergoing a scheduled extended maintenance service. This however will not affect the airline's schedule as maintenance had already been planned for before the grounding.

Comair's schedule returned to normal on Thursday - 12 of their planes were affected.

"SAA once again apologises for the inconvenience caused during the past two days and will continue to update customers on an ongoing basis when required," says the airline in a statement.

"SAA wishes to assure all customers that despite the compliance verification process on a specified number of aircraft by the maintenance subsidiary, SAAT, all of the airline’s aircraft are airworthy and normal operations have been restored."

READ: 'Woke up at 4am, just to get slapped with a 5-hour flight delay' - Twitter reacts to devastating flight delays

On Thursday at a press conference, SACAA revealed that there were five key findings regarding serious inadequacies at SAAT that contributed to the self-grounding of the airlines, two of which were deemed very serious.

One was related to an issue where aircraft were released from maintenance by unqualified staff at SAAT, while the other was related to maintenance on black boxes and their voice recorders that weren't done in line with international regulations.  

"We are in the business of safety and security, and that involves passengers' lives and cannot be taken likely. The CAA doesn’t have any friends that they negotiate with, we don’t discuss if there’s an imminent danger – we act. We are firm, we are fair and we act without fear or favour," said SACAA head Poppy Khoza at the briefing.

*Compiled by Gabi Zietsman

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