Tshwane plans to reclaim category 5 status for Wonderboom Airport
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Pretoria - The City of Tshwane wants to reclaim category 5 status for Wonderboom Airport which it lost for failing to comply with the South African Civil Aviation Authority’s aerodrome licence regulations last year.
The airport, downgraded from category 5 to 2, could not comply with regulations because of poor management and inability to appoint a manager.
The City had previously been embroiled in litigation from the appointment of a private company to manage the airport, instead of hiring a manager in line with its by-laws.
The appointment landed the metro in hot water with the aviation authority. However, then-roads and transport MMC Sheila Senkubuge claimed the municipality was not in the wrong as it had given the authority reasons why it veered from the licence requirements.
Wanting to put the city’s legal troubles behind, new MMC Dikeledi Selowa said she wanted to address the challenges that resulted in the downgrading of the airport.
She believed the airport was a strategic asset to the City, and normal operations ought to be revived.
“Thus a core part of my focus will be to revitalise its operation and ensure that it is operating optimally, and complies with its aerodrome licence obligations as per South African Civil Aviation Authority-related regulations.”
To meet her goal, she said it would be important to stabilise the airport management and staff the airport with appropriate expertise.
Selowa would also address litigation actions initiated against the city’s aviation non-compliance as part of a process to re-obtain a category 5 airport licence.
In the process, she said, her focus would be on adequately developing the airport to have long-lasting scheduled flight services again.
Enhancing the maintenance requirements at the airport would be part of her priority, as would
be identifying the spending requirements needed to address airport compliance requirements.
Selowa said: “Many of these have been initiated, as airport management have already presented a scorecard
in terms of challenges experienced, present areas of non-compliances, budget requirements and a plan of action to address the issues of immediate concern.”
The City was taken to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, early this year by the Wonderboom Airport Interest Group, which successfully challenged the appointment of Ntiyiso Consulting to manage the airport.
The group obtained an interim order for the suspension of Ntiyiso after it argued that the company lacked experience in the aviation industry.
Part of its legal bid was to get the city to appoint a “properly qualified airport manager” to run the airport.
Alternatively, the City was asked to redeploy former manager Hendrik Kleynhans, under whom the airport’s category was moved from level 3 to 5.
Before Ntiyiso’s appointment, the city had on several occasions extended the services of privately-owned company Professional Aviation Services to manage the airport on its behalf.
In 2018, Airlink withdrew its service to run flights between Pretoria and Cape Town due to the alleged mismanagement.
Former mayor Stevens Mokgalapa contemplated selling or leasing out the airport because he deemed it to be a liability.