New jet boosts city’s air link

Concerned residents on Tuesday afternoon alerted Maritzburg Sun that a large aircraft was seeing making loops around Pietermaritzburg airport but not landing.
However, calls to the airport confirmed that there were no “aircrafts in distress” and that all scheduled flights had arrived and departed in time according to the schedule.
It turns out that SA Airlink was in fact conducting several exercises evaluating the approach and take-off requirements for the new Embraer jet aircraft before approving its introduction.
Karin Murray, the marketing and sale’s manager for SA Airlink confirmed that the airline intends introducing the Embraer 190 jet to the route saying the plane “performed a test flight and landing in Pietermaritzburg” on Tuesday.
“The unique operational proficiency of this aircraft will broaden Airlink’s horizons to include smaller community destinations such as Pietermaritzburg,” said Murray.
Coincidently, the CEO of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business Melanie Veness happened to be passing through the airport and was delighted to be given a tour of the new aircraft by SA Airlink staff.

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“The aircraft is impressive and will offer travellers between Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg faster and more comfortable flights.
The dedicated business class is an added bonus for executives that enjoy the service between the two destinations. This offering should draw more travellers from the Kloof/Hillcrest area. It was a very pleasant surprise. SA Airlink succeeded in delighting me!” said Veness. She added that she was hoping that SA Airlink would consider a similar craft for a Cape Town Route in the future. Pietermaritzburg Airport manager Nontobeko Mofokeng and her staff were delighted with the new Embraer touching down on Tuesday, saying the airline’s decision to invest in the new larger aircraft indicated growing confidence in the city and growing passenger demand.
“There was excitement galore at the airport.
We all want growth and better serviced delivery and Airlink’s decision to introduce the larger plane certainly is a thumbs-up for everyone in the city. It is good news for the city socially and economically,” said Mofokeng.

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In February this year Airlink introduced a new route linking the KZN capital to Cape Town using one of its 20 Embraer 135, 37 seat regional jet aircraft.
SA Airlink which was formed in the 1980’s with the merger of Magnum Airlines, Border Air and City Air, has developed into South Africa’s first feeder network, specifically aimed at linking the smaller towns, the regional centres and hubs throughout South Africa and carries approximately 1 400 000 passengers annually.

Maritzburg sun reporter

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