Cape Town - Embattled airline Skywise has been grounded indefinitely by Acsa due to unpaid service fees.
In a desperate move the airline has written an open letter to the state, saying "with R4 million in arrears with ACSA and R4 million with ATNS, the airline is already on Fly as You Pay."
Following an initial grounding on 13 October, the airline said "an agreement had been reached to pay the arrears in installments. Despite making two of the agreed payments, the airline said an extension on its third payment due on 1 December had been refused.
"Two installments were duly paid. The third installment was due to be paid on 1 December for which an extension of 48 hours was requested and rejected."
"More than 200 people work for Skywise and it is funded with personal funds without any government support or institutional loan. Any business takes 6-8 months to break even and we were close to that."
"We got a notice at 17:00 Tuesday, 1 December to be shut down with immediate effect."
Skywise said that as a country "with choking unemployment levels above 20%" it did not expect Government authorities to react in this manner.
"When Government is spending about R1 billion a day in infrastructure development it is logical that they protect businesses that will complement such efforts and speed up economic growth."
"While the aviation industry is a catalyst to economic growth, in South Africa it is a world where a few people influence the decision making processes for their own benefits, and are responsible for the previous failure of 11 private airlines.
"People like us still take the challenge to reduce unemployment, grow the domestic aviation industry and the greater economy only to become a victim of financial stress when billions of rand is readily available to bail out the national carrier.
"More than R65 million personal funds has been invested in Skywise and 4 years of hard work have brought us so far to serve the needs of South African travellers and continue to offer them affordable air fares.
"For about 8 months we had made losses and we were now getting to a point where we can break even. With peak season ahead and more than 8 000 passengers having booked to fly with Skywise airline, they must be looking forward to have their holidays.
"Most of them have never flown before and now have a chance to fly on affordable rates because of Skywise airline.
In the letter Skywise hinted at the foreclosures of previous airlines such as 1Time and Nationwide saying, " Authorities have shutdown yet another private airline, and closed the doors of aviation for new entrepreneurs. If Skywise fail there no entrepreneur will be brave enough to take the challenge to launch into this brutal industry!
"Will ours will be the 12th to fail?"
"Our aircraft, crews and staff are ready to take off any time, what we need is the government to intervene in this matter urgently and give us a chance to serve the people of South Africa and create more jobs and expertise in this industry. Or accommodate our passengers to fly with South African Airways."
Skywise Airline is a private airline, which took off on 11th February 2015 and currently does 40 Flights a week between Johannesburg and Cape Town.
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