Low-cost airline FlyAfrica is optimistic that it will ne able to resume operating in Namibia towards the end of this week. This comes after the Directorate of Civil Aviation (DCA) suspended the airline’s operations, citing safety concerns.
According to the DCA, FlyAfrica used planes that are not authorised under the civil aviation authority’s approved wet lease, which regulates such passenger services. However, the FlyAfrica call centre for bookings yesterday said “The airline will resume operations on November 19,” this week Thursday.
Unfortunately no such confirmation was forthcoming from either the DCA or the Ministry of Works and Transport. In a recent statement the DCA said it took note of various reported incidents regarding the operations of Nomad Aviation, which operates as FlyAfrica, including complaints about the service of the airline, “with greater concern being reports about a recent incident where passengers expressed anxiousness about their safety”.
FlyAfrica’s social media pages recently notified customers that the airline has made the difficult decision to cancel all flights on Namibian and Zimbabwean routes up to and including Wednesday, November 18.
“Unfortunately we are still waiting for court rulings and are working with Namibian and Zimbabwean civil aviation authorities to resolve the matter. The length of wait is uncertain and we are advised it can take between one to five days for a decision to be reached, currently we are at day four of the process.
“We acknowledge that judicial processes take time and we kindly ask our loyal passengers to have patience, as we let the judicial process run its course. We regret disappointing a large number of customers and are increasingly concerned as this number grows each day,” read FlyAfrica’s latest online update.
Meanwhile, the airline’s management said the last few weeks have been “very tough” for the airline and its customers.
The airline, which aims to make flying affordable throughout Africa, has been fighting hard to overcome obstacles to resume its normal flights.
Despite these efforts, the airline has cancelled numerous flights, much to the disappointment and inconvenience of customers.
“We have been encouraged by the messages of support and will continue to fight for fair prices and more passenger choice, helping families to connect to more destinations affordably, and changing the way people do business in southern Africa. We are devoted to this revolution and will continue to work around the clock to achieve full operations for our valued passengers,” reads the airline’s latest update.
The DCA is in the process of conducting investigations into the safety of the airline, to determine whether Nomad Aviation is in compliance with requirements of conducting flights as a certified air operator under the current wet lease arrangement.
Director of Civil Aviation Angeline Simana recently issued an operational directive, applicable from 15h00 on November 5, prohibiting Nomad (Pty) Ltd (trading as FlyAfrica) from continuing its services until such time the DCA has successfully completed a re-validation mission and issued an approval in respect of any such aviation services.
“This operational directive shall remain in effect until withdrawn by the director,” read a statement issued by Simana. The DCA also noted that it received official word from civil aviation authorities in South Africa and Zimbabwe on the operations of FlyAfrica.
“In fact, Nomad’s partner in Zimbabwe, which enabled their Namibian operations, have had their air operator’s certificate suspended by that country’s civil aviation authority. Despite this development FlyAfrica, without consulting the Directorate of Civil Aviation beforehand, continued with flights utilising planes not authorised by the Namibia Directorate of Civil Aviation.”
The airline also had to deal with scores of angry customers stranded in South Africa and Zimbabwe recently. Some, particularly in Zimbabwe, have questioned whether FlyAfrica would refund them.
A spokesman for the airline in Zimbabwe has in response said that once a refund is processed it can take 30 to 40 working days to reflect. “We do acknowledge and apologise for the length of time a refund takes to reflect. This delay is due to a number of factors, such as clearance from both banking institutions,” said the spokesperson.