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South African Airways reissued with AOC ahead of flight resumption

South Africa’s beleaguered national airline, South African Airways (SAA) has been reissued an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) by the South African Civil Aviation Authority ahead of a planned resumption of flights later in August.

South African Airways problems can be traced all the way back to 2007 when the airline recorded its first financial loss. Since 2007, losses only mounted due to the poor governance at the airline, an ageing fleet of aircraft and its inability to compete with rival carriers on domestic and international airlines with cheaper fares and arguably better products.

These problems, combined with the COVID-19 crisis in South Africa lead to the suspension of all SAA flights in September 2020 when the airline was placed into “care and maintenance,” a virtual restructuring of all operations.

The airline has remained in care and maintenance since September 2020. The airline was still a wholly-owned asset of the South African government until June 2021. In June, the country’s flag carrier was sold to a consortium that now holds a 51% controlling stake in the airline, while the South African Government continues to hold a 49% share in the airline.

South African Airways Airbus A330-300
South African Airways Airbus A330-300 registered ZS-SXI. Photo by Anselm Ranta | AeroNewsX.

Since the new majority owners, the Takatso Consortium, took over they have been working with a range of investors to inject 3 billion South African Rand (ZAR) into the airline with the hope of restarting operations by the end of August this year.

Earlier this month, on the 4th of August 2021, the airline took one step closer to achieving its goal of resuming domestic and international flights when it was re-awarded its Air Operators Certificate (AOC) by the South African aviation regulator, the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), who have now approved the airline to operate both domestic and international flights once again.

According to a SACAA spokesperson, only eight aircraft are currently listed on the airline’s AOC consisting of three Airbus A319s, two Airbus A320s, one Airbus A330-300 and two of its flagship Airbus A340-600s. However, according to the SACAA spokesperson, the airlines’ current certification does not approve it to operate the Airbus A319 or Airbus A330 aircraft, despite it being listed on the AOC.

The airline’s current rescue plan outlines a commercial operation consisting of 26 aircraft, broken down into 10 “small narrow-body” aircraft of an unspecified type, 9 narrow-body aircraft and 7 wide-body aircraft. So far it is unclear as to what the airline means by the term “small narrow-body” aircraft, as SAA does not currently have any regional jets in its fleet, while a spokesperson for the aviation regulator in South Africa stated that no request to operate aircraft smaller than the Airbus A319/A320 family has been lodged by the airline.

According to the interim CEO of South African Airways, Thomas Kgokolo, “the securing of an Air Operators certificate is an important development as SAA readies itself to take to the skies again in a few weeks time.” The interim Chief Executive also added that the airline is currently in a preparation phase, training flight crews and ground crews across the country with the view of resuming operations in the near future. The interim CEO concluded by stating that he was confident that South African Airways will be in a position to “announce the exact date for the resumption of flight operations soon.”

The post South African Airways reissued with AOC ahead of flight resumption appeared first on AeroNewsX.

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