Skywise Offers SAA R1.1m to Help Out

Skywise is willing to pay South African Airways (SAA) R1.1m to transport the low-cost airline’s passengers who were scheduled to travel between 4 and 10 December 2015.

Airports Company SA (Acsa) suspended low-cost airline Skywise’s flights on December 2 due to unpaid airport charges for landing, take off, parking of aircraft and related service charges.

On Friday afternoon, Skywise co-chair Tabassum Qadir said this amount is the total cost of all the tickets received from passengers whose flights have been suspended.

The low-cost airline launched a re-appeal to Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters to have SAA accommodate all its passengers scheduled to travel between 4 and 10 December 2015.

Skywise is 100% privately owned, commenced flying between Johannesburg and Cape Town in March 2015 and employs more than 200 people.

Qadir said that Skywise “respectfully agrees” with the Department of Transport’s position in response to a letter of appeal to Peters sent earlier this week.

In that letter Skywise appealed to the Department of Transport to ask SAA to accommodate all its passengers scheduled to travel during this period.

In a comprehensive response on Thursday, Peters told Skywise that it is the airline’s responsibility to accommodate its affected passengers. The department did, however, asked to SAA to assist where possible with the understanding that payment arrangements will be made accordingly.

Peters informed Skywise that its suspension relates to a contractual matter and the plea for help should be made directly to Acsa and the relevant SOEs.

The department, therefore, referred the matter back to Acsa for consideration and a final decision.

The Air Services Licensing Council will meet on December 9 in order to determine whether Skywise can resume flights again on December 10 as requested or not, according to Peters.

In its first appeal to Peters, Skywise claimed a lack of customer confidence or trust developed in the SA airline industry due to other airlines having failed in the past as well as due to “reputational damage caused by previous attempts” to ground it by Acsa – due to non-payment or delayed payment. This resulted in a cash flow crisis for the airline.

According to Qadir, December through January are generally the busiest periods in the airline industry and a great opportunity for airlines like Skywise to make up for losses in previous months.

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