The Bitou Municipality has withdrawn, with immediate effect, its termination notice to CemAir to cease operations at Plettenberg Bay Airport, following a meeting between Bitou’s executive management and CemAir on March 22.
A public outcry on social media and strong criticism from Plett Tourism to the termination notice, resulted in the municipality withdrawing the notice. Plett Tourism said it had not been consulted prior to the municipality’s decision, and it was concerned that the town’s marketability as a tourist destination would take a knock. Plett Tourism Chairman, Peter Wallington, said the airline had made a difference to the town “in many ways – obviously for tourism, [because] it broadens our appeal if visitors are able to fly in and out of town”, and he welcomed the lifting of the termination notice. “We look forward to the establishment of certainty around the airport and its usage. Users of the airport need that certainty to properly plan their activities, especially where it concerns the transporting of visitors in and out of Plett. The municipality needs that certainty to get its due in terms of fees and the honouring of other commitments.”
The following decisions were made in the meeting between management and CemAir:
- Suspension of activities withdrawn with immediate effect subject to the submission of South African Civil Aviation Authority approval certificates regarding the airworthiness of the aircraft being used by CemAir
- The carrier may use the airport as a normal client or user would, paying the applicable landing and parking fees
- The matter of passenger fees payable would be investigated, with a report to be submitted by CemAir indicating the carrier’s contribution in this regard
- That the municipality has acknowledged CemAir’s dispute of its account
- The acting municipal manager put forward a comprehensive report to council, detailing the chronology of events since CemAir commenced with its operations at the airport in March 2014
- And that the report would include CemAir’s dispute of the account owing to the alleged absence of an agreement. The report “will include the aspect of the account being disputed as a result of an alleged absence of an agreement,” said Municipal Spokesman, Manfred van Rooyen.
CemAir has, over the past four years, conducted more than 3 500 flights and carried over 65 000 passengers to and from Plettenberg Bay.