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Aircraft company CemAir has until April 13 to vacate the Plettenberg Bay Airport premises for allegedly failing to honour an agreement with the Bitou Municipality.

The municipality’s decision to cease the company's operation was taken at a council meeting, said acting municipal manager Johnny Douglas.

The notice instructs CemAir to cease operations immediately and to vacate the Plettenberg Bay Airport premises within 30 days “due to a breach of an agreement with the municipality”.

The letter of notice for CemAir to vacate the airport was sent on Wednesday last week.

Bitou municipal spokesperson Manfred van Rooyen said CemAir was granted use of the airport at a fixed monthly fee and, since the company had not honoured the provisions of the agreement, council resolved to halt the services of the aircraft.

Van Rooyen told the Cape Times that CemAir had not been able to pay a R30 000 monthly fixed fee as per the agreement for landing and parking since April last year.

“They did not make any payments. When the matter went to council, it was decided that all monies owed should be paid up front. Since there is no performance on the agreement and nothing was gained, the council gave permission to the municipal manager to tell them to vacate,” he said.

Van Rooyen said CemAir was mandated to pay back all the money it owed, dating back to April last year.

He added that CemAir would have to make alternative arrangements for their aircraft.

CemAir chief financial officer Laura van der Molen could not be reached for comment and had not responded to inquiries by the time of going to print.

On March 11, Van der Molen released a statement that “unfortunately the Margate to Cape Town service via Plettenberg Bay is suspended for the time being”, without giving details why.

Van Rooyen said the removal of the aircraft from the Plettenberg Airport “is not related” to the SA Civil Aviation Authority's (Sacaa) temporary grounding of CemAir aircraft in airports across South Africa in February, after its inspectors discovered some of CemAir’s aircraft had been cleared at the maintenance organisation as airworthy by unqualified personnel.

In that statement, the company said: “CemAir’s safety compliance has been recognised by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which requires all of its members to pass its comprehensive and globally benchmarked biennial IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA).” CemAir renewed its IOSA accreditation last September and is on the IOSA register of approved airlines.

SACAA spokesperson Kabelo Ledwaba said CemAir’s suspension was lifted a few weeks ago.

“This was after the operator had successfully completed a five-phase certification process that included, among others, document evaluation and demonstration phases.”

He said “a handful of their aircraft are yet to be declared as airworthy” by the Sacaa.