Small, State-owned South African airline SA Express confirmed on Thursday that it would restart its operations on August 23. This announcement followed a statement by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises on Wednesday that the carrier would resume flying “next week”.
The airline had been grounded by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) in May, because an audit had “uncovered severe cases of non-compliance that pose serious safety risks”. Subsequently, SA Express was (in the airline’s words) subjected to a “stringent and rigorous process” to restore its standards to the levels required by the regulator.
As a result, the SACAA reinstated the airline’s certification as an Aircraft Maintenance Organisation early last month. Subsequently, the regulator also reinstated SA Express’ Air Operator’s Certificate. The airline has also now received Certificates of Airworthiness (CoAs) for the majority of its fleet.
“We are delighted that we have now satisfied the concerns that the regulator had leading to our temporary grounding,” affirmed SA Express interim CEO Siza Mzimela. “This has paved the way for us to prudently and incrementally reintroduce our flights as from August 23, 2018.”
“[O]ur temporary grounding was an opportune time for the airline to interrogate all aspects of our operation, as well as our customer value proposition,” she added. “It’s all systems go now and we are coming back stronger, more focused and energised. In this regard, we are determined going forward to set new industry standards for safety, product quality and customer service.”
“We would like to thank all our valued customers and loyal staff for bearing with us while we were addressing the regulators’ operational requirements,” she said. Flight bookings have already been reinstated.
Interestingly, the airline’s press release specified that it had received CoAs for “most of its 11 aircraft, with the remaining fleet expected to be given the green light soon”. According to its website, the airline had a fleet of 24 aircraft (ten 50-seat Bombardier CRJ200 jets, four 70-seat Bombardier CRJ700 jets and ten 74-seat Bombardier Q400 turboprops). It was not clear if the press release was referring only to those aircraft which had their CoAs withdrawn, or if some aircraft have been withdrawn from service.