South Africa Suspends SA Express Flights

May 24, 2018

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South African aviation regulator SACAA has suspended all SA Express flights over ‘serious safety risks’.

The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) said it suspended the state-owned airline’s Air Operator's Certificate and its maintenance approvals after an audit “uncovered severe cases of non-compliance that pose serious safety risks.”

SACAA said that of 17 findings, five were described as “severe non-compliance or non-conformance”, causing serious safety threats to the public. Nine of the airline’s 21 aircraft have had their airworthiness certificates suspended as a result of the audit.

“As the custodian of aviation safety and security in the country, the SACAA cannot turn a blind eye to any operation where there is overwhelming evidence that safety measures are compromised,” Director of Civil Aviation Poppy Khoza said in a statement.

She said SACAA regretted the inconvenience and disruption caused by the suspension, but they were necessary to ensure “that the operator’s safety systems are beyond reproach, and that its aircraft can take-off and land at the intended destinations relatively safely and incident-free.”

South Africa’s Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan earlier this week announced the appointment of a new chairman at the state-owned airline, and established an intervention team to support the company’s management.

Gordhan said in a statement “Today's suspension of the airline is a classic example of the impact of corruption and malfeasance on the country's national assets. The grounding of the airline comes as a result of consistent deterioration of the airline's performance over the years that compromised the safety operation of the airline.”

SA Express will have to reapply for its air operator's certificate, maintenance approvals and the airworthiness certificates of its grounded aircraft before it can resume flying.