SACAA Suspends Comair Flights Indefinitely Over Safety Concerns
The South African Commercial Aviation Authority suspended Comair flights indefinitely on Sunday, saying the company did not comply with safety guidelines.
The suspension includes flights from Kulula and British Airways, which are subsidiaries of Comair.
SACAA suspended the company's operating license, which left hundreds of people stranded in airports across the country over the weekend. Comair said the decision was a huge and unnecessary blow to its operations, but the SACAA stands behind its decision.
Safety failures cited by SACAA included engine failures, flights being forced to reroute due to technical faults and others facing emergency landings after a malfunction with their landing gear. An investigation by SACAA revealed other safety concerns met standards of "level one risk," which it says are grounds for suspending operations.
Level one findings pose immediate risk and must be immediately addressed, according to SACAA.
"The mandate of the South African Civil Aviation Authority is to regulate and enforce civil aviation safety and security," said SACAA spokesperson, Phindiwe Gwebu. "We do have the responsibility that everyone that takes to the sky, that uses any civil aviation service does so in a safe manner. This decision by the CAA was not taken lightly, it was taken in the interests of ensuring that every take-off results in a safe landing."
The decision to suspend the flights also had support from transportation Minister, Fikile Mbalula. In a statement Saturday, the Minister said SACAA has an incredible track record of not losing any lives on its flights. This suspension is aimed at maintaining that record.
"We are committed to ensuring compliance with aviation safety prescripts without fear, favour or prejudice," Mbalula said.
By Ben Rappaport