JOHANNESBURG - South African independent airline companies, Airlink and Safair, said on Friday that they were disappointed to learn from the Competition Commission that it had declined to approve the proposed Airlink acquisition of Safair. 

In November, the companies filed an application at the Competition Commission for approval to merge under the umbrella of the Airlink group of companies.

"We respectfully disagree with the decision and the points the Commission has raised to justify its decision," Airlink said in a statement. 

"With this in mind, we will approach the Competition Tribunal for an opportunity to address and allay the Competition Commission’s concerns, most of which relate to airline operational technical matters and for the Tribunal to reconsider our application."

Airlink said it would not elaborate on these now as it does not want to prejudice its case before the Tribunal. 

"We firmly believe the proposed transaction will be beneficial, not only for the two companies, but for their customers, employees, suppliers, the local and regional air transport markets as well as the broader South African economy."

Airlink is the largest independent regional airline in southern Africa and operates a feeder network linking smaller towns and regional centres in South Africa in a strategic alliance with South African Airways. Safair operates a passenger and cargo service, and in 2013 launched the regional low-cost carrier FlySafair. 

Last week the Competition Commission referred SA Airlink to the Competition Tribunal for prosecution on charges of excessive and predatory pricing in the Johannesburg-Mthatha route between 2015 and 2017.

 - African News Agency (ANA)