Knysna-Plett Herald

Restoring of Plett Airport takes off

- Yolande Stander

PLETTENBER­G BAY - Work on upgrading the Plettenber­g Bay Airport is in full swing after a recent downgrade led to airline operator CemAir suspending all of its flights with immediate effect.

After the airport was downgraded by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), CemAir, that had been offering commercial flights between Plett and major city centres for the past seven years, said the downgrade had put the airport below the minimum category required for its flights to be allowed. According to SACAA records, the reason for the suspension was the ongoing failure of the airport to address outstandin­g issues from inspection­s, some several years old. In a joint statement made following a series of meetings between all interested parties, the Bitou Municipali­ty and CemAir said they were entering into a binding agreement to restore the Plettenber­g Bay Airport licence and return CemAir's scheduled airline flights to the airport. "In terms of the agreement, CemAir will engage with the SACAA to, jointly with the Bitou Municipali­ty, manage the process of rectifying all identified nonconform­ances. As the owner of the airport, the municipali­ty will provide its full cooperatio­n and support to expedite this process," the statement read.

"Although some work on the resolution of issues has already begun, the signing of this cooperatio­n agreement will allocate additional resources from CemAir to resolve the identified shortcomin­gs, allowing the airport to once again meet the safety compliance requiremen­ts as soon as possible."

They hope that, with the support of the SACAA, it would be possible to recommence commercial flights to Plettenber­g Bay in October. "The Bitou Municipali­ty commits to create an enabling environmen­t for the speedy resolution of this matter to ensure that CemAir continues to provide commercial flights," the Bitou communicat­ions team said. "The duration of the agreement between the two parties will allow for the implementa­tion of the council resolution to outsource the management of the airport to a suitably qualified private party through an open and transparen­t tender process. We appreciate the support of the community and firmly believe this is a good example of how public and private sectors can work together for the benefit of all. Additional updates will be provided as progress is made on this initiative."

 ?? ?? Work is on the go on the runway of the airport. INSET: Upgrading of the Plettenber­g Bay Airport is in full swing.
Work is on the go on the runway of the airport. INSET: Upgrading of the Plettenber­g Bay Airport is in full swing.
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