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SAA shuts down Malawi operations following probe

The self-imposed sanction was the airline’s reaction to a Level 1 finding raised by the South African Civil Aviation Authority following a base inspection of SAA operations in Malawi.

FILE: An SAA aircraft. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - South African Airways (SAA) has opted to cancel its operations into and from Blantyre, Malawi.

An onsite inspection by the South African Civil Aviation Authority has found that there was a lack of maintenance, unreliable emergency services and poor infrastructure around the airport in Malawi.

SAA has since cancelled all flights following probe by the aviation authority.

The authority's Phindiwe Gwebu explains: “After completing our investigation at Blantyre we found the airport does not meet international standards from a safety and security perspective. We the issued a level one finding, however, their response to the findings was that they’ll discontinue flights to Blantyre.”

Gwebu welcomed the decision saying it’s an expected response from an airline that is serious about passenger safety.

A level 1 finding can be described as a severe non-compliance that poses serious safety risk and requires the licence-holder to adequately address the findings and failure of which necessitates immediate enforcement action by the regulator.

The level 1 finding raised against the national carrier primarily relates to the inadequacy of aviation infrastructure facilities and related emergency support services offered at Chileka International Airport, one of the two Malawian bases utilised by SAA.

The cancelation of SAA’s Blantyre operations is effective Saturday, 19 January 2019 and will remain in place until such time that the findings raised by the aviation authority have been adequately addressed and a follow-up inspection regarding the findings has been conducted.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

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