Grounded low-cost airline Skywise is winning little sympathy from its industry peers after the Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa) suspended Skywise’s operations on all its airports on Tuesday night due to non-payment.
Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa (Barsa) said: “All airlines before starting new operations are aware of the terms and conditions of payment for services provided by Acsa and ATNS.
“In fact all airlines agree to these conditions. I do not believe exceptions can be made.” This follows after a passionate plea by Skywise in an open letter to President Jacob Zuma, asking him to intervene to enable Skywise to fly, or accommodate its passengers on national carrier SAA. Skywise co-chair Tabassum Qadir said in an interview on Talk Radio 702 that all she asks from Zuma is that Skywise’s passengers be accommodated.
She said they would otherwise be stranded over the festive season, since other airlines were booked to capacity. At least one other domestic airline Moneyweb spoke to did not agree, saying there is in fact too much capacity in the market.
In the meantime, Air Traffic Navigation Services spokesperson Percy Morokane denied statements that the organisation also grounded Skywise.
“Our business relations with Skywise are sound and to this end they remain our valued clients,” he said. Qadir said on 702 she would knock on every door to prevent the airline from going under.
Passenger Laura Tlale said on Facebook yesterday morning that her Skywise flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg was cancelled and indicated that passengers were told Skywise would not fly for the rest of the week.
“Last experience with Skywise Airline. Get to the airport and we’re told this week’s airline’s are all cancelled. No notification whatsoever! I won’t even mention the rude airport staff saying I should contact the call centre my self,” she wrote.
Skywise has stopped taking bookings and flights on its website show the message “Sold out”. Business has repeatedly reported about Skywise flights being delayed and cancelled and the Air Services Licensing Council has subpoenaed Skywise to appear before it on December 9 to account for these occurrences.
Passengers who have been subjected to such cancellations have been complaining that they are not getting their refunds within 21 days, as promised by the airline.
Online travel agent Travelstart has said passengers who made bookings using their credit cards can reverse the payments and those using its platform for bookings, with inclusion of the optional Airline Liquidation Policy can contact Travelstart to submit claims for cancelled flights.