The grounding affected state-owned SAA and its low-cost unit Mango, as was Comair, which operates Kulula and British Airways domestically. File Photo: IOL

JOJANNESBURG – There had been no last word by last night on the grounding of flights belonging to four carriers by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (Sacaa) after it identified some issues that were not disclosed to the public.

The action affected state-owned SAA and its low-cost unit Mango, as was Comair, which operates Kulula and British Airways domestically. According to statements yesterday, both Airbus and Boeing jets were involved in the disruption. 

Airports Company South Africa confirmed that it was aware of the problem, but there were no further updates to its statement issued in the morning, which was as follows: “We are working with the affected airlines to understand their respective contingency plans and what the potential impact of the Sacaa directive on airport operations is.” 

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, in a briefing in Cape Town yesterday, said that all flights affected by the grounding would be fully restored by the end of this week. 

“The point for everyone is that we shouldn't panic. These matters are being attended to,” he said. SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said the airline would continue with flights on an amended schedule. 

He said there were four domestic flight cancellations, but the airline took steps to combine flights and deploy bigger aircraft to accommodate affected passengers, while SAA said it hoped that all its flight services would resume and passengers were not further inconvenienced by the current disruptions. 

“We had the benefit of there being a bigger window of opportunity for us to be able to assess and analyse the situation and to make the necessary deployment insofar as the required aircraft size that matches the number of people who must be flown from Johannesburg to any final destination,” he said. 

No further details have been disclosed about exactly when the full normal flight schedules operated by the carriers would resume. 

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