Mango Airlines resumed services after resolving a payment dispute with Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), but you may want to think twice before booking a flight.
Last week Mango suspended flights because it could not process passengers’ information on the system at check-in counters.
Many analysts said the problems were related to a payment dispute with Mango owing ACSA millions in airport fees.
Mango initially denied this claim, saying a technical problem which it was working to resolve was behind the grounding of planes.
Following discussions with the Public Enterprises Department and ACSA, the low-cost airline was cleared to resume flying again.
Mango agreed with ACSA to make a part-payment on what it owes and commit to ways to settle the remaining debt.
The grounding was a clear indication of the deteriorating financial position at Mango, which is the low-cost arm of South African Airways.
Business Day reported that Mango was considering a halt to operations from 1 May 2021 to go into business rescue while awaiting government funding.
SAA was awarded a R10.5 billion bailout in October, while a lengthy search for private investors in the carrier continues to prove fruitless.
While Mango started operating again, MyBroadband has received feedback from irate customers about the poor service levels from the airline on recent flights.
One passenger, who booked seats on flight JE9162 from Cape Town to Johannesburg on 1 May, gave an account of his experience.
The flight, which was set to take off on Saturday afternoon, was delayed multiple times.
“Mango’s communication was all over the place. We didn’t know what time the flight was, when to get to the airport, and what time we had to book in,” he said.
They arrived at the Cape Town International Airport at 18:40 but had to wait until 19:10 for the Mango check-in staff to arrive.
“There was no apology from them for arriving late and they didn’t communicate any delay with us,” he said.
Because of Mango’s poor communication, the airport lounge was not aware of the delay and closed at 21:10. The kitchen closed at 20:00.
“We only had drinks and chips at the lounge,” he said.
The flight finally departed from Cape Town shortly after 22:30 and landed in Johannesburg at around 00:45.
They then had to wait for another 40 minutes at baggage collection and only left the airport at 01:30 on Sunday morning.
“The airline didn’t even give out letters about the problems with breaking curfew rules until we asked for them,” he said.
“What a bad experience. It’s a nightmare,” he said.
The screenshots below show the communication from Mango Airlines with the passenger.
In another incident, a couple’s Mango flight from Durban to Johannesburg was moved more than six hours later, resulting in them missing a wedding ceremony.
Their original flight – JE 246 – was scheduled for 08:20 on Saturday 1 May, with landing scheduled for 09:25.
However, at around 21:00 on the Friday evening before the flight they were notified via SMS that their flight had changed to JE 9252 and would now depart at 14:55 on Saturday.
At that point, earlier flights were charged between R4,000 and R6,000 per person one-way, while their original return tickets only cost R1,900 for both passengers.
While they considered driving to Johannesburg, Mango only offered a voucher for the value of the flight and they could not get a refund.
In addition, they would have to void their flight back to Durban or change the flight date at a significant cost.
They decided to stick with the Mango flight and arrived at the wedding around two hours late.
MyBroadband asked Mango Airlines for feedback regarding the delays and poor communication, but the company did not respond by the time of publication.
Below is the SMS which the couple received from Mango.