Four South African-based airlines have been forced to ground planes overnight following an inspection by aviation regulators at a maintenance facility they all use. The South African Civil Aviation Authority has not yet said what exactly prompted such drastic to be taken but Comair, which owns the low-cost airline Kulula and a British Airways franchise, said the “irregular findings” were uncovered by inspectors during a recent visit.
In a statement, Comair said the situation was so serious that the affected aircraft could not be flown until “corrective action” has been carried out. A third of its services have been cancelled as a direct result of the emergency directive. The aircraft had all been to South African Airways Technical – a maintenance division of the country’s flag carrier.
Affected aircraft belong to Comair’s British Airways fleet, Kulula, South African Airways and its own low-cost subsidiary Mango.
“South African Airways advises customers that it may operate an amended flight schedule following a decision to recall some of its aircraft to undertake compliance verification in line with the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) requirements,” the airline said in a statement posted on its website.
“The decision to recall the aircraft follows an oversight inspection conducted by SACAA at SAA’s maintenance subsidiary, South African Airways Technical (SAAT),” the statement continued.
The airline said it had been forced to cancel four domestic flights and that it was upgauging aircraft and combing flights to minimise disruption. Comair said it had contingency plans in place and had already released four of the affected aircraft back into service. The airline hopes to have its entire fleet cleared in order to operate a normal schedule by Wednesday morning.
“Comair is committed to providing a safe, secure, reliable and quality airline service to its customers. The safety and security of our customers and personnel is our foremost priority and is never compromised,” the carrier explained in a statement.