PLETTENBERG Bay Airport is hoping to have its only commercial airliner back in the air come mid-October in time for the festive season.
Two months ago the small airport had its commercial status revoked following a report by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which downgraded it from category four to two due to numerous non-compliance issues.
At the time CemAir suspended operations citing Bitou Municipality’s inability to adhere to long standing issues that led to the airport losing its commercial status.
However, in early September, both parties entered into an agreement to rectify all of the issues raised by the CAA with CemAir agreeing to allocate additional resources to resolve the shortcomings.
All through September the airport’s social media page has been updated with progress reports on work being done, ranging from the acquisition of a new supplier for aviation fuel starting from October 1, to the remarking of runway lines, training for staff, as well as clearing vegetation from around the airport precinct.
Airport manager, James Sijama said: “We have been hard at work dealing with addressing the major and severe findings from the report and we have covered most of it at this stage.”
“Issues such as staff training in baggage handling, first-aid training for the teams and refuelling, have been completed. Issues around gates and markings on the runway have been attended to.
“Our hope is to have the first take-off in mid-October, as a build up towards the festive season. Peak season has already begun, but this will give customers plenty of time to make plans for December, knowing that the airport, is once again, operational for commercial flights.”
Sijama said they are now waiting on CAA to conduct inspections on all the work that has been done before they can proceed.
“Resumption date depends on CAA and when they can come and inspect the work done. And we will communicate in due-course when we expect to be operating,” he said.
“We believe that there will be adequate demand. We have kept in touch with stakeholders in the area and are confident that we didn’t lose the customer base. We were only out of operation for two months,” he added.
Plett Tourism has welcomed action taken by the municipality to rectify the situation at the airport to allow for commercial flights to be reinstated.
“Upon consultation with the Bitou Municipality and other key stakeholders, we at Plett Tourism are confident that all steps have been taken in a timeous manner to work towards the reopening of the airport on a commercial basis. We are looking forward to welcoming the CemAir flights back into Plettenberg Bay,” read a statement from the organisation.