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British Airways Flights in South Africa Are Back Flying as Regulator Lifts Grounding Over Safety Fears

British Airways Flights in South Africa Are Back Flying as Regulator Lifts Grounding Over Safety Fears

British Airways flights in South Africa operated by franchise operator Comair are back flying after the country’s civil aviation safety regulator lifted an indefinite grounding over several safety fears.

The South African Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reissued Comair’s Air Operators Certificate late on Wednesday evening, and by Thursday morning, the airline had already got some of its planes back in the skies.

Comair operates British Airways branded flights on domestic flights in South Africa, as well as some regional services using Boeing 737 single-aisle aircraft.  The airline also owns and operates South Africa’s low-cost domestic Kulula airline.

The carrier was indefinitely stripped of its AOC on Sunday as safety regulators worked through reams of evidence to make sure the airline was safe.  It followed an investigation which found a serious ‘Level 1’ safety finding that must result in an immediate grounding.

The CAA initially grounded Comair for 24-hours on Saturday but regulators didn’t have enough time to review all of the evidence before the end of the temporary suspension.

“We’re pleased that the situation is finally resolved, following an immense effort over five days and nights to engage and work with the SACAA,” commented Comair’s chief executive Glenn Orsmond.

“After a thorough review of Comair’s documentation, the SACAA has lifted the precautionary suspension of Comair’s licence. Our focus is now to get our operations back to normal as quickly as possible so we can further assist our customers,” he continued.

Orsmond pointed out that regulators had made safety findings over comer’s evidence keeping and quality assurance processes but no safety concerns were raised about flight operations or maintenance.

The regulator had ordered a probe after several emergency incidents involving Comair-operated flights within just a few short weeks.

Comair had criticised the decision to remove so much capacity from the market literally overnight resulting in thousands of passengers being left stranded.  The CAA, however, has defended its position and said regulators had “sleepless nights” working through the evidence.

“South Africa holds a very high-performance record in terms of the standards of safety and security,” the CAA said in a statement.

“According to ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organisation), South Africa’s safety index is rated at level +1 which means that based on South Africa’s performance in the areas of operations, support, and air navigation the country is rated above average.”

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