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SA Airlink cuts flights to Maseru

Mpeshe Selebalo
MASERU — SA Airlink says it has reduced the number of daily flights on the Maseru-Johannesburg route after it introduced bigger aircraft.
SA Airlink’s marketing and sales manager, Karin Murray, said the airline had reduced the flights from Johannesburg to Maseru from four to three flights a day starting December 24.
Murray said the decision to reduce the number flights had nothing to do with the rationalisation programme being undertaken by the airline in South Africa.
“I can confirm that Maseru has not been affected (by the streamlining),” Murray said.  
“I’m happy to report that the flights from Johannesburg to Maseru will continue to operate. We have reduced the schedule from four to three flights per day, due to the additional capacity from 27 to 37 seats.” 
SA Airlink on Monday said it had permanently cancelled three of its South African routes in the wake of safety concerns by the government, which resulted in 14 of its fleet being grounded earlier this month.
SA Airlink said it was scrapping the Port Elizabeth-Bloemfontein, Bloemfontein-George and Johannesburg-Mala routes.
The airline said four other routes — Durban-George, Port Elizabeth-East London, Nelspruit-Livingston, and Cape Town-Upington — were also under evaluation.
With Lesotho relying solely on Airlink for its cross-border air travel, news of the company’s rationalisation exercise had raised concerns among local stakeholders.
Meanwhile, the Lesotho Civil Aviation Department said while it did not have complete jurisdiction over international aircraft flying into the country the authority could still take action when airlines are deemed a safety risk.
“Each country has total responsibility over all aircraft registered in that country as per International Civil Aviation Organisation requirements,” Lesotho Civil Aviation Department director, Ketso Moeketsi, told the Sunday Express on Wednesday.
“This is why the South African Civil Aviation Authority has taken steps to ensure the safety of aircraft registered in South Africa after some safety concerns were raised against Airlink.”
He, however, said each aircraft is inspected upon arrival at Moshoeshoe I International Airport.
“Each and every plane is inspected upon arrival and, should there be anything amiss, appropriate action will be taken against such aircraft.
“We have complete jurisdiction over aircraft operating domestically and will take the necessary action if there is no proper documentation or the plane fails to meet the required safety standards,” Moeketsi said.  
SA Airlink has provided air services to Lesotho for years following the liquidation of Lesotho Airways in October 1996.
This year, Mountain Airways Company — a privately-owned firm — was launched to provide domestic flights to such outlying areas as Mokhotlong and Thaba-Tseka.
Airlink was established in 1995. In 1997, the airline joined South African Airways and South African Express Airways in a strategic alliance.
However, the alliance was discontinued in early 2006.
Airlink also ferries passengers to Swaziland, Zambia, Mozambique, Madagascar and Zambia.

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