Court clips wings of contractor appointed to run Wonderboom Airport
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Pretoria - The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria has finally overturned the appointment of the external contractor to manage the Wonderboom Airport.
The operation of the airport is now back in the hands of the City of Tshwane.
The court ordered the decision by the City to appoint Ntiyiso Consulting as an external mechanism and a transaction adviser for the structuring of assets and implementation of an optimal revenue general plan for the airport must be reviewed and set aside.
City spokesperson Selby Bokaba confirmed the metro was managing the airport through an in-house manager. This followed an earlier application launched by the Wonderboom Airport Interest Group on behalf of various businesses within the facility, who voiced their concerns about the management of the facility.
The group last year managed to suspend the appointment of Ntiyiso Consulting in the running of the airport. This was pending review proceedings, in which the court has now overturned the appointment.
It earlier said in court papers the company had no experience in the aviation industry, let alone the management of an airport. They asked the City be directed to appoint a “properly qualified airport manager” to run the operations.
The group frowned upon the appointment of Ntiyiso Consulting by the City of Tshwane and what it described as the “unlawful” process followed to appoint the external service provider.
All this was done, it said, not only to the detriment of the financial viability of the airport, but also at great expense to ratepayers.
Prior to the appointment, the City on several occasions extended the services of privately-owned company Professional Aviation Services to manage the airport on its behalf.
Flight-training schools based at the airport are meanwhile still awaiting the outcome of an internal appeal process instituted by them against the new fees structures for flight schools using this airport.
They earlier turned to the court in a bid to interdict the City from implementing a tariff hike, which they said would cripple them and force flight schools to find other alternatives.
The parties agreed the tariff would be placed on ice, pending the outcome of an internal appeal process instituted by the flight schools against the hike.
The lawyer representing the flight schools, JB Haasbroek, said they were still awaiting word on the appeal. “We have not heard a word in this regard,” he told the Pretoria News.
Bokaba, meanwhile, said the matter was under consideration, and a report to establish an appeals committee served before the council last month. “The council resolved to seek legal opinion on the interpretation of the constitution of the appeals authority membership. We are waiting for the legal department to advise further.”
The City earlier said the Wonderboom Airport had been non-profitable for years, resulting in it having to fork out for the deficit.
In a synopsis of the impact on the aircrew flight training structure and the financial viability of the airport, the City had suffered a 224% loss this year in having to finance the airport.
The flight schools said that for about 40 years they paid a reduced standard levy to the City regarding so-called aerodrome and terminal control area access charges, amounting to only 20% usual fees applicable to commercial and private aircraft.
This, they said, is because they are a training facility and should be charged training fees as they are different from a commercial airliner. They say the fee hike will cripple the industry.
The City has, with the adoption of its 2021/22 Budget, however, decided to discard the training fees at Wonderboom Airport.