International airlines should be onboarded for repatriations – Ghaleb Cachalia

DA MP says SAA has no money to bring stranded South Africans home

International airlines should be onboarded for repatriation flights as SAA has no cash to do the job

10 June 2020

The Democratic Alliance (DA) reiterates its call for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and other government regulatory authorities to facilitate flights in and out of the country.

South Africans grappling with the challenges of repatriation back home from abroad and the need by others to travel overseas to return to jobs that they may otherwise forfeit are being hampered by the absence of flights in and out of the country.

Over the weekend allegations emerged that South African authorities may be refusing landing rights to international airlines, in preference of South African Airways (SAA). The Democratic Alliance (DA) wrote to the Ministers of Public Enterprises and International Relations and Cooperation in this regard. We are still awaiting feedback.

SAA has no cash in its coffers. Government’s vanity project is bankrupt and would need to be paid upfront for any flights. The DA believes that it now falls on DIRCO to subsidise these flights which, as per SAA’s website, have increased exponentially in price by up to 200%.

In the absence of shouldering its responsibility to South African citizens, the very least that can be done is for DIRCO to facilitate other international carriers that are willing to step into the breach.

British Airways, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and Emirates have expressed a willingness to do so but have been elbowed out by onerous regulations pertaining to crew, quarantine, costs and inconsistent checklists.

The net result is that South African citizens are being left stranded – a result of inaction, incompetence, anti-competitive behaviour and a dereliction of duty on the part of South African authorities.

The DA calls for immediate attention by DIRCO, SAA and other government regulatory authorities to address this urgent need, and to facilitate – not prevent – other carriers from assisting, lest the legitimate needs of our citizens which should be facilitated, are ignored at considerable humanitarian and financial cost.

Issued by GhalebCachalia,DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises, 10 June 2020