Airlink has postponed the resumption of its air services between Johannesburg and Richards Bay until May 2, 2021. Picture: supplied.
Airlink has postponed the resumption of its air services between Johannesburg and Richards Bay until May 2, 2021. Picture: supplied.

Airlink postpones Richards Bay flights until May

By Travel Reporter Time of article published Jan 29, 2021

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Airlink has postponed the resumption of its air services between Johannesburg and Richards Bay until May 2, 2021.

Airlink said in a statement that the services on the route were suspended in April 2020 following the Covid-19 hard lockdown.

"The delay in restarting services on the route has been necessitated by the Richards Bay Airport’s inability to provide the necessary emergency services due to slowed economic activity in the coal terminus harbour town, which has led to weak demand for travel," the statement read.

Airlink Managing Director and CEO Rodger Foster called the situation "a classic Catch-22 situation."

"Historically there was strong demand on the route, enough to sustain up to three flights every day.

“However, the level 3 Covid-19 restrictions have the consequence that only 20 percent of the usual number of people are allowed to be on site at the coal terminal, which is the industrial heart of Richards Bay.

"This has been a major factor slowing the town’s industrial and economic tempo and epitomises the impact the lockdown typically has on the spectrum of Richards Bay businesses.

As a result, passenger demand has weakened.

The Richards Bay airport management has advised us that in the present climate, the expense of providing the necessary fire and rescue emergency services required to accommodate scheduled airline services cannot be justified until demand picks up,” he said.

They hope to resume by May.

“We hope to resume services on the route in May, by which time we trust that the situation will have improved and the airport will once again be able to accommodate scheduled airline operations in compliance with the South African Civil Aviation Authority’s safety requirements,” he added.

Customers holding tickets for flights during February, March and April may request to be rebooked for travel at a later date, or for a refund.

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