Tourism board forced to come clean

Johannesburg -

The Mpumalanga tourism board has been ordered to hand over the records of a business agreement it signed with an airline company, allegedly without going through the proper tender procedures.

An Airlink plane seen in Kimberly. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko. Credit: INLSA

Judge Halima Saldulker made the order in the Johannesburg High Court last Wednesday.

Airlink, a domestic airline which falls under SAA, alleged that the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) had not issued a tender before contracting a rival airline company to run flights between OR Tambo International Airport and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport.

Business Day reported in 2009 that the tourism and parks agency had given Comair the contract to operate the route, after which Airlink “became concerned about the propriety of MTPA’s actions”, according to Judge Saldulker’s order.

Airlink was already operating the route and alleged in its court application that competition would be “skewed” against it because the MTPA would subsidise airport costs for Comair in return for Comair flying to the Kruger airport.

The MTPA must now provide Airlink within 30 days of the judgment with all relevant records of the decision to enter into the agreement with Comair and the reasons for choosing Comair over other companies.

The MTPA previously rejected several applications by Airlink to see the documents, and said such information “would be likely to cause harm to the commercial or financial interests of that third party [Comair]”. - The Star