An investigation into a flight incident which occurred on a Mango Boeing 737 aircraft has unearthed the extent of South African Airways’ problems, according to a report in the Sunday Times.
Passengers on a recent Mango flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town were terrified when the aircraft suddenly nosedived, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing in Johannesburg.
The incident was more of a “jolt” than anything else, according to a Mango Airlines manager, but the plane was forced to land nonetheless, with none of the 147 passengers injured due to the event.
This problem was attributed to a faulty part which was fitted by SAA Technical. Both Mango Airlines and SAA Technical are owned by SAA.
According to the report, SAA admitted that it has been infiltrated by an international crime syndicate which has supplied the company with suspicious aircraft parts and looted “hundreds of millions of rands”.
The preliminary investigation into the Mango Boeing 737 incident found that the defective part which caused the nosedive had no clear service history, despite being fitted by SAA Technical.
Corruption at SAA Technical
SAA Technical conducts major maintenance for SAA, Mango, and a number of European, African, and Middle-Eastern airlines.
SAA told the Sunday Times that it was addressing the problems at SAA Technical and that it had made progress in solving material supply issues.
Comair, which operates British Airways in South Africa, said that it had ended its relationship with SAA Technical due to the company’s “well-documented problems with maintenance scheduling and parts inventory”.
A source at the Hawks told the Sunday Times that a number of corruption investigations at the unit relate directly to SAA Technical.
The installation of a replacement motor with questionable service history raises serious questions regarding SAA’s operations, according to aviation publisher Guy Leitch.
“Airlines have been grounded for less,” Leitch said.
The Department of Public Enterprises recently proposed the merger of South Africa’s state-owned airlines, which include SAA, Mango, and SA Express.
It added that the document which supports the consolidation is currently being reviewed by the government’s economic cluster and would soon head to cabinet for consideration.
Acting Interim CEO of SA Express, Siza Mzimela, said that she fully supported the integration of the airlines, but stressed the importance of how the merger is put together.
The SAA has been described as an “unfixable mess” by Outa, which was commenting on the resignation of the airlines’ CEO.
“The past 11 years have seen the government pump around R50 billion into the airline to keep it afloat,” Outa executive director Heinrich Volmink said.
He said South Africa simply can’t afford to keep SAA as a wholly government-owned entity.