Sunday, December 14, 2008

The President of the Swaziland Business Community wants an airline

By Nelsiwe Ndlangamandla, Week-end Observer, 13 December, 2008

President of the Swaziland Business Community Henry ‘Tum’ du Pont has asked the question if it is not time the country considered having its own independent airline instead of the current set up.

He called on Prime Minister Dr Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini to cause for the exploration of the pros and cons of the country having to stick to a joint venture with Airlink.
Du Pont said he was aware that there were compelling reasons that forced government to abandon the national aircraft at the time that it did, but insisted that times have changed and so have the economies of scale.

“I am asking the question as a Swazi and a businessman. I am speaking for many, I know when I say that Swaziland should look at the possibilities of having its own independent airline,” Du Pont said.His comments come in the wake of complaints by some passengers of the current arrangement where the country has a joint venture with South African Airway’s Airlink.The country’s airline in known as Swaziland Airlink.
In recent times there have been several glitches in the operations of the airline regarding time schedules, handling of baggage and other complications.

In more occasions than one Swaziland Airlink has had to return to Johannesburg with passengers after failing to land in the country’s Matsapha International Airport.
At one time the lighting system of the runway was blamed for the failure of the aircraft to land.

But, in another instance, the aeroplane that is used by the airline has been grounded by mechanical faults.

“As business people we need a reliable service for the various business errands around the world. Flying is a chain and if it breaks on one end, it’s a problem for the rest of the trip. People need to connect flights from time to time and the schedule must be seamless,” said Du Pont.

He added that the country was spending millions in the construction of Sikhuphe International Airport to boost tourism, facilitate business growth and also inject more life to the economy.

“That is another justification to have our own aircraft and fully fledged independent airline. These things are important for the image of a country and also to boost tourism,” he said.

Meanwhile, Teddy Mavuso, Swaziland Airlink General Manager commented to Swazi Observer about the glitches they sometimes experience as an airline.

He said it was true that the flight was on Thursday owing to a mechanical problem.
"People reach their destinations, to day it is just that the flight developed a mechanical problem when it was about to leave." Mavuso denied that Swazis were discriminated against by Airlink, stating that they treated all people the same way.