AIRLINK TO EXPLAIN ITS SIDE OF STORY

SA AIRLINK will be given a chance to explain itself to Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele next week, the Transport department said at the weekend.

SA AIRLINK will be given a chance to explain itself to Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele next week, the Transport department said at the weekend.

The minister was given a report on Airlink on Friday night, which was compiled by the SA Civil Aviation Authority.

He was expected to discuss its findings next week.

"On December 11 we received a report that forms part of the general audit carried out by the CAA on Airlink. We will announce our decision on the matter (today)," Ndebele said in a statement.

"In terms of the law we have to present the report to Airlink for the airline to provide answers and responses to the questions asked by a probe of this nature.

"These are standard questions which assist in the determination of airworthiness and operational health of an airline.

"Once we have met with the airline through our agency, the CAA, we will pronounce ourselves on the matter," he said.

The minister said it was "imperative to clear the air" as soon as possible.

An Airlink flight, carrying 30 passengers, overshot the runway at George Airport on Tuesday last week and landed near the N2 freeway.

The flight operator has had three accidents in the past three months, one of which claimed the life of pilot Alistair Freeman.

Options under consideration by Ndebele include grounding the airline, granting the airline time to sort out its matters, or granting the airline a clean bill of health.

"We will always be concerned about any incident and accident which threatens the lives of our people. It is our responsibility to increase levels of safety in all modes of transport, including buses, taxis, rail, sea and air," Ndebele said.

Meanwhile, Beeld newspaper reported on Saturday that two SA Express planes could not take off on Friday because of technical problems.

SA Express spokesperson Dileseng Koetle confirmed that two flights were delayed "due to technical problems".

"The safety of our passengers is a priority to us and we did not want to place their lives in danger," Koetle said.

Passengers were accommodated at hotels near the airport.- Sapa

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