By Annisa Essack
Reports reveal that airlines like Lufthansa are allegedly spending as much as R1.5m per flight to divert their aircraft for refueling in Durban due to a continuing shortage of jet fuel at OR Tambo International. The costs are compounded by Airports Company SA, which is refusing to waive the extra landing and handling fees airlines accrued from landing at two airports.
Aviation expert Desmond Latham spoke to Radio Islam International to provide more insight into the situation.
Latham said that the situation had stabilised but can be attributed to a combination of factors including the infrastructure damage to areas in Durban during the devastating storms last month, the problems being experienced by TRANSNET as jet fuel was transported via rail and the miscalculation of airport companies on the amount of fuel, they would be required due to the lull experienced during the pandemic.
ACSA, he says, “is in the hole” due to the COVID shutdown and are experiencing some degree of financial problems presently and have chosen to not waive any fees. He added that most state-owned entities have very little room to move regarding the trimming of costs and making it difficult to manage during a crisis.
The closure of refineries, which presently are controlled by private companies, will affect jet fuel delivery and prices for South Africa and is thus very concerning.
There was a ray of light as he explained that most airlines would keep their flights to South Africa as routes are lucrative and as the threat of COVID dissipates, travel will definitely pick up again.
The concern he says is that many of the smaller aerodromes owned by the state are falling apart and are being sold to make money. ACSA has also gone on record saying that they will be concentrating on non-aviation revenue streams, which reflect signs of destabilizing.
The negative sentiment regarding South Africa’s economy and high costs could be the spoke in the wheel for aviation.
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