Skywise makes desperate call for help

The struggling airline is offering to pay SAA over a million rand to accommodate passengers.

Skywise Airline. Picture: Skywise Facebook page.

CAPE TOWN - Skywise is offering to pay South African Airways (SAA) over a million rand to accommodate passengers who are scheduled to fly from today until 10 December.

The troubled budget carrier was grounded on Wednesday because of unpaid airport charges, leaving passengers stranded and many worried that their festive season travel plans may be jeopardised.

Skywise owes R4 million to Airports Company South Africa (Acsa), which it promised to pay in instalments.

But when it failed to make a payment this week, Acsa forced the airline to suspend all its flights.

Skywise Co-Chair Tabassum Qadir said, "Before I worry about resuming my operations, my first worry is to accommodate those passengers."

Qadir says she has given SAA a breakdown.

"I told them that this was the revenue that I had collected from those tickets which were booked from 4 to 10 December, which I am willing to pass over to them if they are willing to please book all those seats. I have given them a breakdown."

TRANSPORT MINISTER NOT GETTING INVOLVED

At the same time, Skywise says it's disappointed that Transport Minister Dipuo Peters has refused to intervene in the airline's dispute with the state-owned Acsa.

The airline had written an open letter appealing to government to urgently intervene in the matter.

But Peters referred Skywise back to Acsa.

"We can't have a specific or a special dispensation for them. This is not the first time they have this type of problem. They had a similar problem in October and they worked out an arrangement. Let them come back and let them work on that particular arrangement together, so that they'll be able to deal with the challenges that they're facing in terms of the payments," Peters said.