EMPTY PROMISES ADD TO DISTRESS OF HUNDREDS

np velvet plane INLSA Velvet Sky not ready for take off

JOLENE MARRIAH

GROUNDED Velvet Sky flights continue to cause distress among the many hundreds of passengers booked to fly on the low cost airline since it suspended its flights on February 29.

The beleaguered airline which faces liquidation because it owes BP R29-million for jet fuel, initially suspended its flights until March 5.

With many promises to be up and in the sky since that date, the airline is still grounded and disgruntled passengers are still awaiting refunds.

One family still waiting for a refund of R9 623 is Navin Narshai and his wife Maya, from Grahamstown.

The couple booked their online flights in February for the son’s wedding which is set to take place in Durban next month.

“My son’s wedding is set to take place in Durban on April 14.

“We cannot wait for Velvet Sky to make a decision. They have made empty promises and have given us the run around when it came to our refunds.”

The couple have opted to book their flights with South African Airways.

“I am now paying around R300 more for each person and had to dip into my savings because we did not get our refund yet.”

Narshai said their woes began on March 3.

“My wife had been doing wedding preparations in Durban when news of the suspension was announced.

“She was due to return to Port Elizabeth on March 3, but had to book a flight with an alternative airline. At that point I lost R498.”

“We had booked flights for nine people from Johannesburg to Durban and Durban to Port Elizabeth to the value of R9632 through Velvet Sky for the wedding.

“I would rather pay a little more to fly on a more reliable airline and have less stress. Taking a knock of ten grand is not something we can let go of lightly.”

Narshai said he has been on the phone since March 3 for refunds on the tickets, but calling the call centre has been a nightmare.

“When an operator comes on the phone they say that they are dealing with thousands of people.”

Another disgruntled passenger is Gauteng-based Dharmesh Nathoo who had booked flights with Velvet Sky, to fly to the Design Indaba in Cape Town during the first weekend in March.

Nathoo said he had booked his flights three weeks prior and had paid about R2400 for a return ticket.

“It was the same week that Velvet Sky had announced they had suspended flights and I had to pay an additional R4000 on an alternative airline, because I had incurred accommodation costs in Cape Town.”

Nathoo said apart from his own money, he was also requesting refunds for his elderly parents who had paid about R3500 for a holiday to Durban.

“They had to cancel their holiday and had waited at the airport for hours.”

Nathoo said he had sent his refund forms and had continuously called the centre for feedback.

“My last call to their offices was on Friday. A lady told me that their accounts had been frozen and no refunds were taking place at the moment.

“I have no idea what is happening and it is very unfair to the customer.”

SABC reported that the airline's staff have been given notice of temporary lay-off rather than being retrenched.

Staff will not be paid their salaries during the lay-off period, the broadcaster reported.

Numerous attempts via telephone and sms to get a hold of Velvet Sky co-owner Dhevan Pillay for comment were unsuccessful.


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