By Johan Pretorius
Cemair CEO Miles van der Molen addressed the RNM council on Tuesday and recommitted the airline to serving the South Coast, and gave the assurance that despite being grounded since 2 February, problems had now been sorted out and a full schedule would be resumed at any time now. (EDITOR’S NOTE: MR. VAN DER MOLEN HAS SINCE INFORMED US THAT THE FULL MARGATE SERVICE WOULD BE RESUMED ON TUESDAY)
He pointed out that the suspension of its aircraft by the South African Civil Aviation Authority of Cemair’s Aircraft Maintenance Organisation had been lifted with immediate effect, and hoped to have its full service restored within two weeks, and to Margate by the end of the week. At the time of the suspension SACAA said it was found that some of Cemair’s aircraft had been cleared by unqualified personnel. Cemair attributed it to a paperwork non-compliance rather than a safety issue, but undertook to give its full co-operation to resolve the issue.
On Tuesday Mr. Van der Molen recommitted Cemair to serving the South Coast just as it had done over the past more than four years, pointed out that the service had grown in leaps and bounds, and that Cemair had not increased its fares since starting its service in November 2013. “We are very much back in this part of the country which is very close to our hearts. We know we helped increase the profile of the South Coast as a prime tourist destination, and will continue to do so. In December last year, we transported more than 4 000 passengers to and from Margate. The past four years have been a wonderful ride, and I can assure you we are dedicated to expanding our relationship.” He apologised for letting passengers down during the past few weeks, and thanked them for their patience and loyalty. “The safety and well-being of our customers, our people and our aircraft remain our top priority.”
Mr. Van der Molen pointed out that Cemair was a member of the International Air Transport Assocation (IATA) which recognised the airline’s safety compliance. IATA required all of its members to pass its comprehensive and globally benchmarked biennial Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). CemAir renewed its IOSA accreditation last September and is on the IOSA register of approved airlines. Eighty-three per cent of the world’s airlines belong to IATA. He gave an overview of Cemair’s history over the past 13 years, said it had 24 aircraft of various types, and operated in several other countries all over the world. It started off on the Johannesburg-Margate route with the Beech 19, but had slowly progressed to bigger and more fuel efficient aircraft per passenger numbers, which enabled it to keep fares stable for four years. In addition, its service helped grow and expand Margate airport aviation services, and businesses associated with the airport, such as the restaurant and car rental concerns.
Mr Van der Molen said SACAA had lifted the grounding of CemAir’s Dash-8 Q400 aircraft. The aircraft was one of Bombardier’s flagship products offering turbo-prop short-field performance with jet-like speeds and comfort. CemAir would be operating the aircraft on selected domestic routes. CemAir’s newest addition to its fleet, the 90-seat CRJ900 was also due for imminent release into operation. As the ‘big brother’ to CemAir’s 50-seat CRJ 100/200 fleet, the CRJ900 was an impressive aircraft extremely popular in the North American and European markets, but was the first of its variant registered in South Africa.
Cemair Chief Financial Officer Laura van der Molen gave an overview of the airline’s commitment to social upliftment programmes on the South Coast. She said the airline remained committed to its social responsibility, and referred to several times in the past it devoted days to affording aged, disadvantaged and young people who had never been in an aircraft before, the opportunity to go on a flight over the area.
Mayor Cynthia Mqwebu, Deputy Mayor Ronnie Nair, DA Cllr. George Henderson and several other councillors wished the airline well, and expressed the view that it would grow from strength to strength to the benefit of both itself and the South Coast.
Municipal Manager Max Mbili also expressed his satisfaction, and said he had invited the airline to personally bring the RNM council up to date with the current state of affairs after the grounding of the airline.
The interim schedule of operations is published on the FlyCemAir website www.flycemair.co.za .Ticket-holders should contact CemAir central reservations department on tel: 0861 236 247 for further information. As we are experiencing high call volumes, queries can also be emailed to any of our offices at any of the following addresses:
Further updates will be posted on www.flycemair.co.za