S.Africa’s Nationwide denies leasing a KLM plane


JOHANNESBURG (TVLW) – South Africa’s grounded carrier Nationwide Airlines said on Sunday it had not leased an aircraft from Dutch airline KLM for its London service, denying a claim by the airline authority.

South Africa’s Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) said Nationwide had leased an aircraft from KLM to fly passengers to London on Sunday evening.

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“Nationwide has never made a request to the CAA for permission allowing it to use an aircraft from KLM to fly passengers to London on Sunday, or any other day,” the airline said in a statement.

SACAA on Friday grounded Nationwide’s flights, raising fresh concerns after an engine fell off one of the airline’s planes earlier this month.

SACAA said the company could not guarantee continued safety and that it had suspended approval for the unlisted airline’s maintenance organisation, which had failed to comply with regulations to meet the authority’s safety standards.

The airline authority also suspended the certificates of airworthiness of all aircraft maintained by Nationwide.

Nationwide said it had its own Boeing 767 aircraft, which it used on the London route. “The major maintenance of this aircraft has been performed by KLM in Amsterdam at prescribed intervals,” the airline said.

SACAA spokeswoman Phindiwe Gewbu told Reuters earlier in the day that inspection of the leased aircraft was being done before it would be allowed to fly.

Nationwide said that since it had not leased an aircraft from KLM, “it is inconceivable that CAA inspectors could be examining it to ensure it was properly maintained”.

However, Gwebu confirmed that an inspection of the aircraft had indeed taken place since the morning.

On Nov. 2, South Africa’s Civil Aviation Authority grounded all Boeing 737 200 aircraft in the country for safety checks after an engine fell off the wing of a Nationwide Airline aircraft carrying 106 passengers in Cape Town. There were no injuries sustained by anyone on board or on the ground.

Nationwide has flights to London’s Gatwick airport and says on its website that it has more than 350 domestic, regional and international weekly flights, including to Zambia.