Passengers stranded as Mango Airlines suspends flights

Wendy Knowler Consumer journalist
Mango’s check-in counters at Cape Town International Airport were deserted on Tuesday morning. File photo.
Mango’s check-in counters at Cape Town International Airport were deserted on Tuesday morning. File photo.
Image: TEBOGO LETSIE

Hundreds of Mango ticket holders were left stranded at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo and Cape Town international airports on Tuesday, a day after the deeply indebted airline confirmed it will go into business rescue.

Passengers had made their way to the airports for the 10.15am and 10.25am flights by the time Mango notified them by SMS that the flights had been suspended.

The Halabi family of five from Durban were among the scores who left their Cape Town accommodation early on Tuesday morning ahead of their 10.15am Mango flight back home, only to find the airline’s check-in counters at the Cape Town airport deserted.

“Only at 8.53am did we receive an SMS from Mango saying all flights are temporarily suspended,” Michelle Halabi told TimesLIVE.

“That was far too late for all us of us who made our way here after paying for tickets.

The domestic departures board at Cape Town International Airport showing the cancelled Mango flight on July 27 2021.
The domestic departures board at Cape Town International Airport showing the cancelled Mango flight on July 27 2021.
Image: Supplied

“There are people in wheelchairs, babies, even a man with his dog which he sedated in preparation for its journey in the cargo hold of the plane. Now what?”

FlySafair’s flights are fully booked for Tuesday. The airline’s chief marketing officer, Kirby Gordon, said the airline was looking at adding extra flights this week to cater for stranded Mango ticket holders.

Shortly before 9am, Mango’s acting CEO William Ndlovu tweeted: “Dear guests, Mango Airlines apologises for today’s flight interruptions and delays.

“We can confirm our services and all flights are temporarily suspended from today, July 27, until further notice due to outstanding payments to ATNS (Air Traffic Navigation Services).

“Senior management and our shareholder are in discussions to find an amicable solution to this impasse.

“Affected passengers with valid and available contact details will be informed via email and SMS accordingly.

“Customers are also urged to contact us via email at enquiries@flymango.com and/or vouchers@flymango.com to deal with cancellations and voucher-related matters specifically.”

Issued vouchers will be valid for 24 months.

“We plan to resume normal operations as soon as possible,” said Ndlovu.

“We ask for calm and patience as we navigate these challenges. We will update the public as soon as possible. We apologise in advance for the inconvenience caused.”

However, Mango’s apology for “inconvenience” came not in advance, but after the fact — and not for the first time.

As many on social media have pointed out, vouchers are of no use to those who have to find money to buy new tickets.

Archie Lungu responded with this tweet: “Oh, but you guys always do this. There is no way you get caught off guard in the mornings. You knew you owe ATNS, yet you allowed people to continue booking flights.”

According to business rescue documents submitted to court, Mango owes ATNS just under R58m.

CONTACT WENDY: E-mail: consumer@knowler.co.za; Twitter: @wendyknowler; Facebook: wendyknowlerconsumer

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