Court or­ders Ce­mAir to ta­ke off a­gain

Knysna-Plett Herald - - News - Yo­lan­de S­tan­der

Ai­r­li­ne o­pe­ra­tor Ce­mAir, which has re­gu­lar flig­hts in and out of a­mong ot­hers P­let­ten­berg Bay, has been success­ful in its bid to o­ver­turn the na­ti­o­nal a­vi­a­ti­on re­gu­la­tor's de­ci­si­on to sus­pend its air o­pe­ra­tor cer­ti­fi­ca­tes and ground all its flig­hts at the start of the fes­ti­ve se­a­son.

Ce­mAir in a sta­te­ment on Tu­es­day said the ai­r­li­ne broug­ht an ur­gent high court ap­pli­ca­ti­on to o­ver­turn the de­ci­si­on by the SA Ci­vil A­vi­a­ti­on Aut­ho­ri­ty (SACAA) and that it was success­ful. “In the co­ming hours, we will an­noun­ce our plans to re­sto­re ser­vi­ce as soon as pos­si­ble. We thank you for your con­ti­nu­ed sup­port and of­fer our sin­ce­rest a­po­lo­gy to e­ver­yo­ne af­fected by our groun­ding,” the ai­r­li­ne said.

It i­ni­ti­al­ly la­bel­led the mo­ve by the re­gu­la­tor as “ma­li­ci­ous”.

'Com­mit­ted to sa­fe­ty'

“We a­da­mant­ly re­ject the re­a­sons of­fe­red by the CAA for their de­ci­si­on. We are an ai­r­li­ne dee­ply com­mit­ted to sa­fe­ty and ex­cel­len­ce and ha­ve of­fe­red mul­ti­ple re­a­so­na­ble so­lu­ti­ons to the sta­ted con­cerns, all of which ha­ve been re­jected, an in­di­ca­ti­on of a ma­li­ci­ous in­tent by the CAA to bring Ce­mAir to its knees by groun­ding it un­ne­ces­sa­ri­ly at peak se­a­son,” Ce­mAir said in an e­ar­lier sta­te­ment. This co­mes af­ter the SACAA an­noun­ced last week that Ce­mAir was no lon­ger a­ble to o­pe­ra­te as an ai­r­li­ne or air o­pe­ra­tor or fly any of its 21 ai­r­craft. SACAA spo­kes­per­son Ka­be­lo Ledwa­ba said this fol­lo­wed a de­ci­si­on by the aut­ho­ri­ty to sus­pend two of Ce­mair’s air o­pe­ra­tor cer­ti­fi­ca­tes (AOC) with ef­fect from T­hurs­day 13 De­cem­ber at 15:30.

'My­ri­ad non­com­pli­an­ces'

Ledwa­ba said one of the re­a­sons for the de­ci­si­on was that au­dit fin­dings sho­wed Ce­mAir had been o­pe­ra­ting so­me ai­r­craft out­si­de of per­mis­si­ble lo­a­ding li­mits, in­clu­ding weig­ht and ba­lan­ce. “This me­ans that the weig­hts of the pas­sen­gers and bag­ga­ge de­cla­red by the flig­ht crew we­re not the sa­me as tho­se re­cor­ded by the ser­vi­ce pro­vi­der con­trac­ted by Ce­mAir.

Ledwa­ba ad­ded that a “my­ri­ad of i­den­ti­fied non­com­pli­an­ces” sho­wed the acti­ons and con­duct of the o­pe­ra­tor po­sed se­ri­ous and im­me­di­a­te thre­at to sa­fe­ty.

The a­vi­a­ti­on aut­ho­ri­ty con­fir­med the court de­ci­si­on and said it is ple­a­sed Ce­mAir would fi­nal­ly com­ply with o­pe­ra­ting cer­ti­fi­ca­te con­di­ti­ons.

“This may co­me as good news for the ai­r­li­ne’s clients who we­re left stran­ded for se­ver­al days,” Ledwa­ba said.

Sa­fe­ty 'the true win­ner'

He ad­ded that con­tra­ry to the ai­r­li­ne’s an­noun­ce­ment de­cla­ring the court vic­to­ry, the SACAA is of the view that a­vi­a­ti­on sa­fe­ty is the “true win­ner in this re­gard”. “This is be­cau­se the court did not exo­ne­ra­te the ai­r­li­ne from com­plying with its li­cen­ce con­di­ti­ons. The par­ties re­a­ched a sett­le­ment, which was ma­de an or­der of the court. The court gran­ted an in­te­rim or­der pen­ding fi­nal de­ter­mi­na­ti­on of an ap­pe­al lod­ged by Ce­mAir to the di­rec­tor of the re­gu­la­tor. Sus­pen­si­on of Ce­mAir’s o­pe­ra­ting cer­ti­fi­ca­tes was tem­po­ra­ri­ly lif­ted with con­di­ti­ons,” Ledwa­ba ex­plai­ned.

He ad­ded that alt­hough the court or­der tem­po­ra­ri­ly lifts the SACAA’s de­ci­si­on, it com­pels the ai­r­li­ne to com­ply with re­gu­la­ti­ons.

Through the court or­der, Ce­mAir is cal­led upon to de­ve­lop a pro­ce­du­re for mo­ni­to­ring and ac­coun­ting for un­de­cla­red hand lug­ga­ge and sub­mit it to the aut­ho­ri­ty for ap­pro­val. The ai­r­li­ne al­so has to im­me­di­a­te­ly com­ply with the weig­ht and ba­lan­ce re­qui­re­ments.

This is not the first ti­me the ai­r­li­ne had is­su­es with its com­pli­an­ce. In Fe­bru­a­ry this y­e­ar, 12 of Ce­mAir’s ai­r­craft we­re groun­ded for three weeks w­hen it ca­me to lig­ht ai­r­craft had al­le­ge­d­ly been ser­vi­ced and cle­a­red as ai­r­worthy by per­son­nel un­qua­li­fied to do so.

P­ho­to: E­wald S­tan­der

For the se­cond ti­me this y­e­ar, Ce­mAir pla­nes we­re groun­ded by the na­ti­o­nal a­vi­a­ti­on re­gu­la­tor week, but an ur­gent court or­der has o­ver­tur­ned the de­ci­si­on.

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