Stranded SA Express passengers booked on SAA flights

The SACAA announced on Thursday that it had suspended the carrier’s operating license with immediate effect.

Picture: commons.wikimedia.org

JOHANNESBURG - While there has been no response yet from SA Express on the South African Civil Aviation’s Authority (SACAA)'s decision to ground its operations, it’s understood stranded passengers are being booked on South African Airways (SAA) flights.

The SACAA announced on Thursday that it had suspended the carrier’s operating license with immediate effect.

The authority conducted an audit of the airline’s maintenance organisation and found serious non-compliance with standards.

Barely two weeks after an SA Express aircraft’s engine malfunctioned shortly after take-off from East London, the SACAA has grounded its operations citing serious safety risks.

Kelly Morrison’s mother arrived in Johannesburg on Thursday morning and was scheduled to catch a flight to East London.

“They’ve been really helpful; they’ve given her a night in a hotel and put her in an [SAA] flight tomorrow morning.”

The authority says SA Express will have to reapply for a safety and compliance approval in order to operate again.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan also revealed on Thursday that the embattled airline paid over R5.7 million to Gupta-liked Trillian Capital without following proper processes.

The aviation authority's Poppy Khoza said: “We’ll have to the redo the entire certification process from scratch sort of like a new airline, to look at the entire system up to a point where we’re satisfied that we can reissue an operator’s certificate.”

A spokesperson for SA Express says the company chief executive will comment on the development later on Thursday evening.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)