CAA suspended SA Express’s air operators certificate

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has noted the Civil Aviation Authority’s decision to suspend South African Express’s Air Operators Certificate.

The CAA on Thursday suspended SA Express’s air operators certificate and the certificates of airworthiness (CoA) of nine of the 21 aircraft being operated by the airline.

This effectively means that as of 24 May, SA Express Pty (SOC) can no longer continue to operate as an airline. In order to be able to operate, SA Express will have to reapply and be issued with the relevant approvals (an air operating certificate), and an approval for the aircraft maintenance organisation, and certificates of airworthiness for the grounded aircraft.

The decision to suspend SA Express is based on the audit findings by the CAA, which, among other things, relate to safety management processes.

“Today’s suspension of the airline is a classic example of the impact of corruption and malfeasance on the country’s national assets,” said the Ministry of Public Enterprises.

The grounding of the airline, which falls within the portfolio of the Department of Public Enterprises, comes as a result of consistent deterioration of the airline’s performance over the years. This includes a number of incidents that compromised the safety operations of the airline.

This impact is informed by actions of the previous executive management that resulted in looting of resources without being held accountable during their tenure in the airline, the ministry said.

Gordhan said SA Express Airways remains a critical player in the economy in connecting smaller towns to the major economic hubs.

“An urgent recovery of the airlines is therefore critical to minimise the impact,” said the Minister.

Gordhan has taken various steps over the past few weeks to radically change the way SA Express operates. This includes:

1) Identifying an intervention team to support the executive management until a permanent team can be appointed by the board. In addition, a team of technical aviation experts has been identified to address the challenges that have continued to undermine the operations of the airline;

2) The intervention team is tasked with the following responsibilities in the interim to ensure the immediate stabilisation of the airline:

– Technical, safety and maintenance;

– Stop the bleeding and achieve financial stability;

– Short-term liquidity injection and put it on a path for re-capitalisation; and

– Leadership, governance and safety culture.

3) The Minister has announced Mmakeaya Magoro Tryphosa Ramano is the new chair of the nine-member board. Other members include Ronald Ozzy Lamola and Ahmed Ismail Bassa. The inclusion of Bassa, who is also a member of the South African Airways (SAA) board, will enable government to better realize the synergies between the state airlines.

Gordhan reassured that all those involved in the malfeasance and weakening of the airline will face the necessary consequences.

The ministry has apologised to SA Express customers for the grounding of the airline.

SAA contingency plans

Meanwhile, South African Airways (SAA), which also falls within the portfolio of Public Enterprises, said it had noted the CAA’s decision.

“SAA has activated its business continuity teams to implement contingency plans and is working closely with SA Express to provide all required and necessary assistance. All efforts are being channelled towards assisting passengers who may be affected by the suspension of SA Express services,” said the national carrier.

SAA has an interline agreement with SA Express and has mobilised teams at the airports to assist passengers.

“We apologise to all our customers for the inconvenience caused by the suspension of SA Express services,” said SAA, adding that it will provide regular updates on the situation. –

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