SAA vaccines

Image via: @PresidencyZA
/ Twitter

Civil Aviation Authority says it did not stop SAA from collecting vaccines

SAA says the Civil Aviation Authority declined its cargo flight to Brussels and only approved it three days after it was meant to fly.

SAA vaccines

Image via: @PresidencyZA
/ Twitter

The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) says it did not stop South African Airways (SAA) from flying and collecting the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines in Brussels. In fact, it says it granted SAA’s exemption application on 16 February 2021.

A spokesperson for South African Airways, however, told The South African that SACAA declined the SAA cargo flight and by the time it was approved, it was too late. 


SACAA said it was approached by the operator, in this case SAA, with a request for an exemption relating to a flight to Brussels. It then directed SAA to provide further details relating to some of the risk mitigating measures.

“The concern that the SACAA had with the initial exemption application was in relation to the recency of their flight deck crew, whereby the applicant did not provide adequate details on mitigation measures. It is important to note that recency is a vital safety requirement for pilots as outlined in the Civil Aviation Regulations,” SACAA said in a statement. 

SAA had voluntarily ceased operations a while back, however, this does not mean that they had surrendered their Air Operator Certificate (AOC) to the SACAA. In that regard, their AOC remains valid even though they had put their operations temporarily on hold, the SACAA explained. 


SACAA said the exemption application was granted on Tuesday 16 February 2021.

“Any operator who is not conducting regular flights, or their aircraft are not in regular service/operation for one reason or another, is expected to conduct the required maintenance on the aircraft, which may include preservation and return to service maintenance,” the SACAA said. 

“To this end, SAA Technical remained operational to perform these maintenance tasks on SAA aircraft. Subsequently, SAA managed to address the concerns that were raised by the SACAA,” it added. 

When asked if the flight was stopped by the SACAA, a spokesperson for SAA said the following; 

“Yes, the CAA declined the SAA cargo flight as they believed that some [of] the training that had been undertaken by the pilots last Thursday and Friday could not be credited.” 

The spokesperson then elaborated saying that the SAA plane was due to leave on Saturday 13 February. 

“It didn’t. I believe the application was granted on Tuesday,” the spokesperson said. 

TUI charter flights flew the vaccine into the country late on Tuesday night 16 February 2021.