SA Express

SA Express: Airline grounded as safety and staff concerns cripple services

Don’t bother trying to book a flight.

SA Express

Thinking of booking an SA Express flight? Don’t even bother. Numerous safety concerns together with financial woes and mismanagement seem to have been the final nail in the coffin.

On Thursday, the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) suspended the air operator’s certificate of SA Express. Nine of the airline’s 21 aircraft were also grounded, therefore making it unable to operate.

The airline made headlines on Wednesday after Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, revealed that the company had been involved in a dodgy deal with one of the many Gupta-linked companies involved in state capture.

The SACAA explained that the airline was guilty of serious non-compliance regarding official airline maintenance. The nine aircrafts grounded were seen as posing a serious safety risk.

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Speaking to the media on Thursday, Gordhan also revealed that the company had multiple pilots and crew members walk out from their job over their own safety concerns. The pilots believed that it was simply too dangerous to fly those planes.

Reports show that the company’s technicians were unable to order the new parts required for the aircraft due to the airline not having enough money.

The SACAA did not go into specifics around the non-compliance but did reveal that five of the 17 findings amounted to severe non-compliance.

If SA Express intends to start operating again, it will have to re-apply for its air operating certificate, gain approval from the aircraft maintenance organisation and airworthy certificates for all the grounded aircraft.

Gordhan also confirmed that South African Airways (SAA) SA Express and the state-owned Mango will merge together.

“Bringing the airlines together and rationalising their routes are important. Rationalising the kind of aircraft needed at a particular time and day – that’s the experience we’re beginning to learn from airlines around the world,” he said.

Currently, Mango is the only profitable group of the three state-owned airlines. The Minister has appointed a new SA Express board to oversee the transition period.