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Johannesburg - Fuelling of aircraft at OR Tambo International Airport resumed after an attempted cable theft caused flights to be delayed, the Airports Company SA (Acsa) said on Sunday night.
“I wish to confirm that normal fuelling operations have resumed. The airport has been operating at significantly reduced fuelling capacity for about six hours,” spokeswoman Unathi Batyashe-Fillis said in a statement.
She added earlier that three severely damaged power cables had prevented the refuelling of aircraft.
“This was due to an attempted robbery of the cables… just outside the perimeter of the airport,” Batyashe-Fillis said.
She said police were investigating and airport technicians had been working since around 11am to restore power.
Flights were departing on Sunday, but at a slower rate.
She said they had to transport fuel in tanks to refuel some of the grounded planes.
Once the cables had been replaced and power restored, clearing the flight backlog began.
“Flights couldn’t take off from around 10am. At the last count, it was roughly around 20 flights that couldn’t depart. They were mainly local flights but a few international flights were also affected.
“We are hoping to get everything running before the majority of international flights begin departing later this afternoon,” Batyashe-Fillis added.
SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali confirmed that the delay had affected all airlines, including his own, operating at OR Tambo.
He said some passengers had to wait 90 minutes before departing to their respective destinations.
Passengers and family members were alerted to the delays through notices on the airport’s billboards. Some of the flights affected were those heading to Mauritius and other African destinations including Lusaka in Zambia, Manzini in Swaziland and Windhoek in Namibia.
Flights to Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Richards Bay were also affected
Some domestic and international flights were delayed indefinitely.
The Star understands that Acsa, several security companies and the police were locked in a meeting to work out plans to prevent a repeat of the
Security personnel had reportedly acted swiftly to prevent the actual theft of the cables from outside the airport.