Jo'burg, 8 July 2010: Comair Limited, operator of British Airways in South Africa and kulula.com says that the flight disruptions at the King International Shaka Airport in Durban yesterday were due to gross mismanagement of landing space by the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) and Air Traffic Navigation Services (ATNS).
Private aircraft, without allocated landing slots, were allowed to land and park at the airport for the World Cup semi-final clash between Germany and Spain. This resulted in local airlines, such as British Airways and kulula, which had been allocated landing slots at the airport two months ago, being denied the right to land by ATNS, due to inadequate parking space.
Comair will be sending a letter of complaint to the Department of Transport (DOT) demanding a full independent investigation into the matter. Prior to the World Cup, the aviation industry had numerous meetings about potential organisational glitches at the new King Shaka International airport, such as increased air traffic and aircraft parking problems. The airlines urged them to have contingency plans in place, such as keeping the old Durban International Airport in operation. It is now evident that these recommendations were never taken into account.
Gidon Novick, Joint CEO of Comair says "This is unacceptable practice by ATNS and ACSA, and they need to be made accountable for their actions. Their behaviour goes against our service agreements and we will be pursuing damages claims against ACSA and ATNS to recover the costs incurred as a result of their actions. We greatly regret the disruption to hundreds of World Cup supporters as a result of this gross mismanagement, which could have been avoided."
The knock-on effect of the delays forced Comair and other airlines to divert to OR Tambo International Airport (ORT), causing some passengers to miss the World Cup semi-final completely. In addition, due to the large number of aircraft diverted to ORT, there was insufficient ground handling equipment at ORT to ensure the speedy disembarking of passengers from aircraft.
Novick said affected customers are being directed to ACSA to claim refunds and damages and should email email@example.com. If they do not receive a response they should contact the CEO of ACSA directly.