THE South African Airways(SAA) has temporarily suspended Its Malawi route due to safety measures.
From today until further notice there will be no SAA aircraft that will be going or coming from Blantyre, Malawi.
The self-imposed suspension came after the investigation conducted by the South African Aviation Authority (SACAA) revealed that it was not safe to travel to that country using SAA.
The regulator has welcomed the move. “This is an expected response from a responsible operator that understands the importance of aviation safety. SAA has opted to cancel its operations into and from Blantyre, Malawi. The self-imposed sanction was the airline’s reaction to a Level 1 finding raised by SACAA following a base inspection of SAA operations in Malawi,” said SACAA spokesperson Kabelo Ledwaba.
A Level 1 finding can be described as a severe non-compliance that poses a serious safety risk and requires the license-holder to adequately address the findings and failure of which necessitates immediate enforcement action by the regulator.
“The Level 1 finding raised against the national carrier primarily relates to the inadequacy of aviation infrastructure facilities and related emergency support services offered at Chileka International Airport, one of the two Malawian bases utilised by SAA.”
The inspection exposed several non-compliances some of which are cause for serious concern.
The airport’s perimeter fence is vandalised and falls short of the set international standards.
Due to lack of maintenance, both the ambulance and fire engine are not dependable.
According to Ledwaba, this state of affairs may have catastrophic consequences for the airline’s passengers and crew in an event that one of their aircraft or surrounding facilities catches fire as things stand, that would mean that emergency support services would not be instantly available as prescribed by civil aviation regulations worldwide.
After receiving the inspection report, which also detailed the findings, SAA developed and submitted a corrective action plan (CAP) to the aviation authority.