Air Botswana has announced the temporary suspension of its Gaborone-Cape Town, South Africa, route following the recent grounding of CemAir.
Air Botswana runs the route 4x weekly using CRJ-100 capacity wet-leased from the South African ACMI/charter operator which has been grounded since February 2 over regulatory compliance concerns.
For its part, CemAir has since issued a statement refuting claims levelled by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) to the effect that twelve of its aircraft had been released back into service or cleared as airworthy by unqualified personnel working at its AMO.
“..the Engineers concerned met the experience requirements in terms of the SACAA approved Manual Of Procedures which defines all requirements for the operation of the CemAir AMO (Aircraft Maintenance Organisation),” it said. “Based on the above, the Engineers were qualified and the issued Company Approvals were valid.”
CemAir CEO Miles van der Molen said on Thursday, February 15, that good progress with SACAA had been made insofar as the reinstatement of the affected aircraft’s airworthiness certificates is concerned.
“The situation has lasted far longer than expected, not due to the discovery of further issues but rather, because of the SACAA’s undertaking to perform a full review of all aspects of CemAir’s aircraft maintenance division which, in an organisation of our scale, is a substantial undertaking.”
“The documentation phase of this process is expected to be completed by Friday, February 16, 2018 and will be followed early next week by the inspection phase. In parallel, an inspection of all of the 12-affected aircraft is ongoing.”
“The safety and well-being of our customers, our people and our aircraft is our top priority. For this reason, we are working closely with the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) and based on the progress achieved to date we expect to start limited operations soon.”
In the meantime, CemAir has chartered a Fokker 70 from Golden Wings Aviation (South Africa) (Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) to cover its Johannesburg O.R. Tambo-Hoedspruit route. On other routes where possible, the airline has made arrangements to re-book passengers onto alternative flights or to refund them.