By Johan Pretorius
RNM Municipal Manager Max Mbili says CemAir is hoping to resume its flights to and from OR Tambo International on 10 August. Briefing journalists on the issue on last week, Mr. Mbili said the airline had been experiencing difficulties in going through the necessary procedural requirements to service Margate airport again, which had taken much longer than anticipated.
A month ago everything pointed to both CemAir and Airlink flying to Margate Airport, but this did not happen because of delays for various reasons. Mr. Mbili pointed out that Airlink declared its intention several months ago to begin its own service, together with CemAir, but that it had not been happy with the available office space at Margate Airport. Airlink said it was inadequate, and the RNM offered to provide a mobile office complying with Airlink’s requirements. However, Mr. Mbili said, he had not heard from Airlink since.
CemAir was grounded by the Civil Aviation Authority at the end of last year and the beginning of 2019, and eventually won a lengthy appeal process.
When the CAAC appeals committee ruled in favour of CemAir at the beginning of May, CemAir stated it had been extremely unfairly treated by the CAA, as borne out by the appeals committee report.
CemAir CEO Miles van der Molen told eHowzit on Monday that the airline had been battling CAA ‘red tape’ over the past months while, inter alia, going through the renewal process of its certificate for commercial flying, which had expired during the lengthy appeal process.
‘These guys are making it as difficult as possible for us to fly again, even though the appeals committee was quite adamant that we should never have been grounded. The process has been delayed by various tactics, and we have not been able to keep to our intended deadlines. We simply cannot commit to a starting date, and can only say that we are doing all we can to move things along. The CAA keeps on moving the goalposts and do so extremely slowly, but we nevertheless continue to provide the required documentation. The starting date can only be announced once the CAA renews the AOC and we expect that to be in the coming weeks. However, we are in their hands.’
When the SACAA ban was lifted at the beginning of May, Mr. Van der Molen commented: ‘The judgement demonstrated there was no justification for the grounding of CemAir in December and again in January. The SACAA made an uninformed decision, was biased and have a predetermined goal to stop the airline from operating. “The SACAA regards itself as a law unto its own and failed to follow the aviation regulations and administrative procedure.” He further stated that “South Africa needs a strong authority to regulate and promote aviation and to serve the interests of the flying public. Its actions caused significant job losses for CemAir staff, and tens of thousands of travellers have been inconvenienced. The authority was unreasonable and the only avenue available to CemAir was a legal challenge through the CAAC.” The judgement makes it clear that no safety concern exists so the motive behind the grounding must lie elsewhere but he would not speculate.’
Reliable sources in the airline industry have told eHowzit that the Aviation Authority is heavily biased against CemAir, and making it as difficult for the airline to fly again, despite the ruling of its own appeals committee. There is even speculation of outside influences playing a role.