GEORGE NEWS - A young Johannesburg woman is devastated after she could not attend her late grandfather’s memorial service in Hartenbos earlier today because her flight to George had been cancelled.
Nicole van der Merwe’s flight this morning was booked and paid for, but while she was packing last night, she received an e-mail informing her of the cancellation.
The e-mail stated: "Due to a delay in Government processes, the re-opening of George Airport did not take place on 21 July 2020 as announced by the Minister of Transport on 16 July 2020."
She told the heartbreaking story to George Herald a short while ago.
She suffered the tragic loss of her last living grandfather on 15 July. "Due to this pandemic and government regulations I was unable to be by his side during his final moments … I felt in my heart and soul, I needed to say goodbye one last time. I knew the risks for Covid-19 and even though I have asthma, I was prepared to put my own life at risk just to be there,” she said.
The last time she saw her grandfather was in November 2019. The last time he was strong enough to speak to her was on his birthday.
“I had gotten assistance from travel agencies, just to make sure that all procedures and protocols were followed allowing me to fly from Gauteng to George Airport. After long processes we managed to get a flight for today.” They paid the R4 000 for the ticket straight away.
“I had to go to different police stations to get documents certified as half of them were closed due to positive Covid cases. After running around for almost a week to ensure we met all the regulations, we were ready to go say our final goodbyes.”
Van der Merwe is heartbroken. "I have no words to describe this feeling. I was not travelling for business; I was travelling to pay my respects. So due to Government delays I am not able to attend my grandfather’s memorial today and say goodbye. Due to Government’s delay, a granddaughter is not able to see her grandfather laid to rest.”
She is unhappy about being informed less than 24 hours before she was supposed to depart. “If I knew this was going to happen, I would rather have gotten into my car and driven 12 hours to hopefully be there in time,” she said.
“My grandmother has no grandchildren there now to support her through this day. All I can say is you have broken the heart of a young girl who just wanted to say goodbye to the man she looked up to."
At the booking centre of the specific airways company, a representative said the flight was cancelled because the George Airport didn't have a clearance certificate for aircraft to land. The planned flight for Friday is going ahead.
Acsa referred the matter to the Department of Transport. George Herald is still awaiting its comment.
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