Court orders CemAir to take off again
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.
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.
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.