CEO of SA Express Inati Ntshanga has apologised to travellers who were left stranded on Saturday after the airline’s flights were grounded due to safety concerns. In a statement issued on Saturday, the CEO said that since the airline started operating in 1994, safety has been their utmost priority.

Ntshanga says the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has been given all the necessary documentation it has asked for in terms of compliance, and he hopes that the matter will be resolved swiftly so the airline can get back its operating licence.

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“We sincerely regret any inconvenience that our operational issues have caused and we humbly apologise to you for the aggravation, the trouble and the disruption that we were responsible for,” Ntshanga said in the statement. “We thank you for your support and understanding, and I assure you that the SA Express team and I will do everything in our power to make it up to you and to win back your confidence as South Africa’s best regional airline.”

The airline made arrangements for its passengers on other airlines and are hoping to resume operations on Sunday.

In a statement by the SACAA, also issued on Saturday, the aviation authority said the suspension of SA Express flights was precautionary and was necessary in the interests of safety and to prevent catastrophic incidents.

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“The suspension follows a series of non-compliances and the SACAA’s dissatisfaction with the operator’s safety monitoring systems, which are meant to monitor and address any safety deficiencies,” the SACAA said in the statement. “The regulator also found the operator’s proposed corrective action plan inadequate as it does not satisfactorily address the findings raised.”

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During inspections and audits, the aviation authority found the safety monitoring systems of the airline to be less than efficient. SA Express had also failed to address concerns raised by SACAA. The regulator pointed out that they were receiving full co-operation from the airline.

“The SACAA views the inefficiency of the safety monitoring systems in a serious light as it poses serious safety hazards and risks to the crew, passengers and the public at large. For this reason, the regulator cannot allow the operator to continue with operations until such time that the identified safety concerns are adequately addressed.”