South African Express Airway has announced that on the 27th August they will be resuming their operations on the Gaborone Johannesburg route after a two months interruption from Botswana’s airspace.
This follows a reinstatement of both airline’s Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and Aircraft Maintenance Organization (AMO) licenses by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA).
“The SACAA was concerned that SA Express was not able to maintain an effective safety management System and that safety could potentially be compromised, says Masego Matsila, Country Manager of SA Express Airways in Botswana.
Matsila explained safety Management system as a comprehensive management system designed to manage safety elements within the airline with the intention of identifying and managing risks to ensure that passengers are flown safely.
Adding that the requirements that an airline needs to meet in order to carry passengers are very definitive and specific and cover every possible aspect of carrying passengers. Safety and Security are huge elements of this.
Further she noted that as a result of the SACAA grounding, SA Express could not operate from its main hub Johannesburg to service its entire network which consists of domestic routes within South Africa and regional destinations.
She said, “Botswana is a key component of SA Expresses’s anchor markets amongst its regional routes. Our Botswana customers had to find alternative ways to travel from Gaborone to Johannesburg and back during our 2 months hiatus off the airspace.”
However she says during this period of difficulty, the airline worked to ensure the least amount of inconvenience to their passengers as they were accommodated and transferred to other airlines on their booked travel dates.
During an interview with this publication she said SA Express Airways had to also convince the SACAA that they could carry passengers safely.
“To do so we had to provide workable solutions to address the SACAA concerns and then undergo comprehensive scrutiny of our management systems, policies, procedures and manuals. Comprehensive training in Safety Management Systems as well as Hazard Identification and reporting was rolled out to all managers and staff. Finally the SACAA conducted a comprehensive inspection of our aircraft and their maintenance records, our engineer processes, and an entire flight including checking crew ability to safely deal with a simulated inflight emergency,” Matsila said.
SA Express is also said to have received certificates of Airworthiness for most of its 11 aircrafts from SACAA, with the remaining fleet expected to be given the green light soon.
Matsila concluded by saying they return to service knowing that their operation is safer and more reliable than before.
Meanwhile some media reports state that SA Express Airways has experienced significant financial challenges since 2011/12 resulting in its current poor financial performance and position. According to the South African Department of Public Enterprises, the state-owned carrier’s projected loss for the 2017/18 financial year is ZAR189 million rand (USD12.9 million). As of December 31, 2017, its net equity position stood at negative ZAR71 million, thus requiring the South African government to provide it with guarantees of ZAR1.74 billion (USD120 million).