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