The Polokwane International Airport has lost its license to operate commercial air services over non-compliance with the required minimum standards. The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) downgraded the airport to Category 2, which does not cater to commercial flights.
Airline company, Airlink, has stopped its flights to Polokwane after it was advised by the SACAA about the downgrade.
The suspension of flights to Polokwane by Airlink leaves the province without any commercial flight services.
Airlink Chief Executive and Managing Director, Rodger Foster, says the decision to suspend flights is mandatory following the absence of aerodrome and rescue fire fighter services.
“The decision to suspend services is not Airlink’s decision, but is mandatory in the absence of the required category aerodrome and rescue firefighter services and flights, from Wednesday onwards, have been suspended until the airport complies with it its license requirement. The suspension of service will cause a destruction which is regrettable and most unfortunate especially as so there was no prior notice,” explains Foster.
The Chief Executive says they are waiting for the Polokwane airport management for clarification on what will happen next.
“We are still awaiting answers from the Polokwane airport management as to when the airport will be able to resume its normal category which is Category 7. This aircraft required a minimum of Category 4 for the 29 seat type, Category 5 for 37 seat type,” explains Foster.
The airport’s new board plans on appealing the downgrading. The provincial Transport Department says it will assist. Transport Spokesperson, Motemi Moremi-Tauetsoala, says they will work with the board to attend to non-compliance issues raised by the aviation authority.
“The shareholder will give the full support to the new board, which has been appointed (effective from the) 1st of April, immediately to start the process to appeal the decision and also give them support to immediately finalise any other issue raised with the airport,” Moremi-Tauetsoala adds.
The Gateway Airports Authority Limited (GAAL), which is responsible for managing all airports in Limpopo, was described as the worst performing entity in the province by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts last year. About R14 million was unaccounted for in the 2018/2019 financial year at GAAL.
Source: SABC News (sabcnews.com)