News / South Africa / Courts

Marizka Coetzer
Journalist
2 minute read
3 Aug 2021
5:20 am

Wonderboom businesses take Tshwane to court over fees

Marizka Coetzer

Selby Bokaba, spokesperson for the city, said flight training schools at Wonderboom had, for four decades, been given an 80% discount on standard tariffs.

Picture for illustration purposes. Picture: iStock

Local businesses from the Wonderboom Airport in Pretoria have dragged the City of Tshwane to court after bump up in fees of up to 300% for the upcoming financial year.

On 8 July, the Wonderboom Airport Interest Group (Waig), along with several flight schools, issued an urgent application to obtain an interim interdict against the city to prohibit the implementation of the 2021-22 budget.

Waig said the 20% approach fee per single landing was pushed up to 139%, while the 20% grounding frequency on a single landing increased to 321% and the 20% of a landing fee, per single approach, also increased to 321%.

On 20 July, the High Court in Pretoria granted an interdict in favour of Waig and 10 flight schools, ordering the city to levy the discounted training fees applicable before the adoption of the budget.

Selby Bokaba, spokesperson for the city, said flight training schools at Wonderboom had, for four decades, been given an 80% discount on standard tariffs.

“[The city] has with effect from 2021-22 financial year withdrawn the discount, implying that standard rates will apply,” he said.

Bokaba added the city would be defending the matter, which was undergoing an internal review.

Kevin Storie, executive committee member at the Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Association of Southern Africa, said should the city proceed with the steep increases, the airport would fold in six months due to the flight school not being able to afford it.

During flight training at the airport, a trainee might do six to 10 landings in an hour.

“You can’t charge full price for every landing, it is not feasible.”

Students were not making any revenue on the flights.

“It’s a student in an aircraft; they don’t have the revenue, compared to an airline with 40 passengers, paying the landing fee.”

Storie said should the city win, 40 years of development would crash in six months.

“How can a capital city not have a functioning airport?” he asked. Waig chair Christian Maiorana, who owns the restaurant at the airport, said it was struggling.

“Our feet count is enormously down, especially during the week; it’s misery. We are barely making it.”

He said they had managed to keep their kitchen staff because they had branched out to sell frozen foods. Before the scheduled fights, the airport had made between R80 000 and R100 000 a month on parking alone.

“The car park booms have not been working for three years so it’s over a million rand a month they lose.”