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Airtime Airlines continued to take bookings for flights yesterday - despite not having planes to transport its passengers and a licence to take to the skies.
The new low-cost airline was scheduled to take off for the first time this morning at 9am from the Durban International Airport. More than 100 people have booked through Durban-based travel agency Serendipity Tours, which acts as the airline's sales and service agent.
According to the Department of Transport, no Airtime flights are due to take place. "We have no knowledge of Airtime Airlines flying tomorrow except what was in the newspapers. They have not applied for a licence to operate," said department spokesman Ahmed Bassa.
Dinesh Naidoo, head of the travel agency, said: "We continue to take bookings because nobody has informed us to stop.
"As far as I know, the first flight is scheduled to take off in the morning. I spoke to airline chief executive Vino Egambarram on Wednesday and he did not mention anything about rescheduling."From our side we have secured more than 100 seats. The customers are travelling from Durban to Joburg and Cape Town."
Airtime Airlines has been marred by controversy since its introduction in the market in December. A week before its initial take-off on January 18, reports surfaced that the airline had failed to secure a deal to lease three Boeing 737-200s from Lanseria-based group Air Aquarius.
The initial flight date was then rescheduled to January 25 - which did not happen either because there were still no planes or legal documents. Soon after the second hiccup, Airtime Airlines announced it was ready to fly on January 30.
Egambarram told Sowetan it was "a lie" that the rental deal had collapsed.
"I will not comment on the subject any further because reporters do not research their stories and end up writing the wrong information." He then hung up.
Air Aquarius told Sowetan a different story. "There is no working relationship between us and Airtime Airlines.
"They did approach us in November wanting to lease three planes and operate using our licence but the deal never materialised," said chief executive Gavin Branson.