Sky­wise of­fers to pay SAA R1.1m to fly its pas­sen­gers

CityPress - - Busi­ness - FIN24 busi­ness@city­press.co.za

Strug­gling low-cost air­line Sky­wise on Fri­day of­fered SAA R1.1 mil­lion to trans­port its pas­sen­gers.

The pas­sen­gers were sched­uled to travel be­tween De­cem­ber 4 and De­cem­ber 10.

The Air­ports Com­pany SA (Acsa) sus­pended Sky­wise’s flights on Wed­nes­day due to un­paid air­port charges for land­ing, take­off, park­ing of air­craft and re­lated ser­vice charges.

This is the third such ac­tion it has taken in as many months.

On Fri­day af­ter­noon, Sky­wise cochair­per­son Tabas­sum Qadir said the R1.1 mil­lion was the to­tal cost of all the tick­ets re­ceived from pas­sen­gers whose flights had been sus­pended.

The low-cost air­line launched an­other ap­peal to Min­is­ter of Trans­port Dipuo Peters to have SAA ac­com­mo­date all its pas­sen­gers sched­uled to travel be­tween these dates.

Sky­wise, which is pri­vately owned, started fly­ing be­tween Joburg and Cape Town in March. It em­ploys more than 200 peo­ple. Qadir said Sky­wise “re­spect­fully agrees” with the de­part­ment of trans­port’s po­si­tion in re­sponse to a let­ter of ap­peal it sent to Peters ear­lier this week.

In a com­pre­hen­sive re­sponse on Thurs­day, Peters told Sky­wise it was the air­line’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to ac­com­mo­date its af­fected pas­sen­gers.

The de­part­ment did, how­ever, ask SAA to as­sist where pos­si­ble with the un­der­stand­ing that pay­ment ar­range­ments would be made ac­cord­ingly.

Peters in­formed Sky­wise that its sus­pen­sion re­lated to a con­trac­tual mat­ter and the plea for help should be made di­rectly to Acsa and the rel­e­vant state-owned en­ti­ties.

The de­part­ment re­ferred the mat­ter back to Acsa for con­sid­er­a­tion and a fi­nal de­ci­sion.

The Air Ser­vices Li­cens­ing Coun­cil will meet on Wed­nes­day to de­ter­mine whether Sky­wise can re­sume its flights again by Thurs­day.

In its first ap­peal to Peters, Sky­wise claimed a lack of cus­tomer con­fi­dence or trust in the South African air­line in­dus­try, due to other air­lines hav­ing failed in the past.

The air­line also cited “rep­u­ta­tional dam­age caused by pre­vi­ous at­tempts” to ground it by Acsa – due to non­pay­ment or de­layed pay­ment.

This had re­sulted in a cash flow cri­sis for the em­bat­tled air­line.

Ac­cord­ing to Qadir, De­cem­ber and Jan­uary are gen­er­ally the busiest pe­ri­ods in the air­line in­dus­try.

She said it was a great op­por­tu­nity for air­lines like Sky­wise to make up for the losses it had in­curred in the pre­vi­ous months.

– Fin24

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