CemAir Could Relaunch South African Services After 9 Month Pause

CemAir could be set to relaunch its South African services, after the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) renewed its aircraft operating certificates. This comes off the back of a license suspension enforced by SACAA in January of this year, allegedly due to serious safety concerns. Simple Flying has taken a look at the details around CemAir’s comeback.

CemAir could relaunch its services after SACAA renewed its operating certificates. Photo: CemAir

Who is CemAir?

CemAir was formed in 2005 as a privately owned company, operating out of OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. The airline was formed with the goal of operating a number of smaller commercial aircraft in Africa and the Middle East, as well as servicing a number of domestic routes within South Africa.

The carrier bases its operations on international aviation safety standards and procedures, offering passengers access to destinations not frequented by major airlines such as SAA. According to Planespotters, its fleet consists of:

  • 9 Bombardier CRJ-100 series aircraft.
  • 1 Bombardier CRJ-900 series aircraft.
  • 6 De Havilland Canada DHC-8 Dash 8 aircraft.
CemAir’s fleet includes 10 Bombardier CRJ aircraft. Photo: CemAir

CemAir also leases out its aircraft, with experience in a number of countries. These include Afghanistan, Tunisia, Libya, Sudan, South Sudan, and Nigeria, amongst others.

License suspended

CemAir had its domestic operating license suspended for the first time at the end of 2018. SACAA put forth that the airline had its fleet cleared for airworthiness by personnel not suitably qualified for the task. SACAA further argued that the flight operations manager was under-qualified for the role and that safety regulations were not adhered to in a satisfactory manner

CemAir launched a successful appeal in the matter but found itself grounded once more. In January of 2019, SACAA once again suspended CemAir’s operating licenses. The aviation authority put forth a systemic failure of the airline’s maintenance controls as the reason for the groundings. Once more, the regional carrier appealed the decision.

In April 2019 the Civil Aviation Appeal Committee finally overturned SACAA’s findings, with the final judgment left uncontested. CemAir received the green light it was looking for.

Ready to relaunch

In the midst of its legal struggles, CemAir’s aircraft operating certificate expired on January 28th, 2019. It was unable to perform its annual renewal at the time, due to legal constraints, which led to the natural expiry of the certificates. After the favorable judgment on appeal in April, the airline was finally in a position to re-apply.

In a statement released on October 18th, the airline confirmed that its certificates had been renewed, effective as of October 17th. CemAir will be announcing which domestic flights will be resumed first, and Simple Flying has reached out for comment in this regard. The airline has revealed that it will definitely provide flights to popular holiday destinations, Plettenberg Bay and Margate, in time for the summer holidays.

CemAir will offer flights to the popular holiday destinations of Margate and Plettenberg Bay, after a 9-month pause. Photo: CemAir

The carrier is currently still processing refunds to those affected by the SACAA rulings. It is now also able to offer future credit, with flight operations set to resume. It appears as though CemAir was the target of a malicious campaign by SACAA, and that the South African carrier has been vindicated.

Will CemAir be affected by the wisp of cloud hanging over its head, courtesy of SACAA, or will consumers be placated by the appeal judgment?

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