NATIONAL NEWS - An SAA flight fetching the second batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines for South Africa has landed in Brussels, reports eNCA.
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said on social media on Thursday morning the flight had departed to fetch the 80,000 vaccines.
While concerns over the cost of flying to Brussels and back with only vaccines have been raised, Mbalula said the flight would come back with “other cargo” as well.
The flight is expected back in South Africa on Saturday. The flight, originally scheduled to fly out on Sunday, was delayed after permission to fly to Brussels by the South African Aviation Authority (Sacaa) was obtained later than anticipated.
This after Sacaa requested more information from SAA to assess the application, said the Public Enterprises Department, denying that the flight was denied permission altogether.
The Sacaa said it delayed the processing of the application after requesting the operator to provide further details relating to some of the risk-mitigating measures.
“The concern that SACAA had with the initial exemption application was in relation to the recency of their flight deck crew, whereby the applicant did not provide adequate details on mitigation measures.
“It is important to note that recency is a vital safety requirement for pilots as outlined in the Civil Aviation Regulations.
“It must also be noted that the operator, i.e. SAA, had voluntarily ceased operations a while back. However, this does not mean that they had surrendered their Air Operator Certificate (AOC) to the SACAA. In that regard, their AOC remains valid even though they had put their operations temporarily on hold.
“With that said, any operator who is not conducting regular flights, or their aircraft are not in regular service/operation for one reason or another, is expected to conduct the required maintenance on the aircraft, which may include preservation and return to service maintenance,” said Sacaa.
SAA managed to address Sacaa’s concerns and was granted permission to fly as a result.