Regional airline SA Express will resume its operations between Johannesburg and Mthatha in the Eastern Cape from Thursday February 21, the airline said on Saturday.
The route was suspended on January 25 after the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) downgraded the Mthatha Airport following negative audit findings, SA Express said in a statement.
The SACAA had subsequently upgraded the airport to level four and restored all the airport’s operating rights for passenger air services with immediate effect.
SA Express would operate a daily service between OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) and Mthatha Airport between Sunday and Friday with the intention of increasing frequency in the coming weeks.
The flights would depart Johannesburg (ORTIA) at 3pm, arriving at Mthatha Airport 4.40pm, with the return flights departing at 5.10pm and landing at ORTIA at 6.40pm. The airline would operate a 50-seater regional jet CRJ 200 on the route, SA Express said.
Earlier, the Eastern Cape government said it had, with immediate effect, reinstated Mthatha Airport’s category four aerodome license. The decision by the SACAA followed the Eastern Cape provincial executive’s (Exco) undertaking a fortnight ago to provide the necessary support to the provincial transport department and ensure adherence to all outstanding non-compliance matters cited by the national aviation regulator following its decision last month to downgrade the airport to category three level, Eastern Cape provincial government spokesperson Sonwabo Mbananga said in a statement.
“The downgrade was due to the non-compliance with civil aviation regulations (CARs) of 2011 that were identified as posing a serious threat to aviation safety.”
The transport department had since submitted updated information on corrective measures taken to address the identified non-compliances at Mthatha Airport to the director of civil aviation at the SACAA.
“Having reviewed the corrective measures that have been put in place at Mthatha Airport, I am satisfied that the conditions which led to the existence of serious safety concerns over category four operations have been satisfactorily addressed,” SACAA director of civil aviation Poppy Khoza said in the statement.
The SACAA would continue to exercise its oversight responsibility to ensure that operations at Mthatha Airport adhered to the requirements of the civil aviation regulations in keeping with acceptable standards of safety.
Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle commended the transport department for “working with speed to reverse a downgrade at Mthatha Airport”.
He reiterated the provincial government’s apology to the public and the business community at large for all inconveniences caused as a result of the downgrade, which prompted airlines operating routes out of Mthatha Airport to suspend passenger services.
Masualle again called for consequence management to be undertaken against those responsible for ensuring that Mthatha Airport was compliant and in keeping with civil aviation regulations at all times.