Airport Report – Mike Pearce

The year started with several issues outstanding from 2019.  The Airport forum, consisting of the Council and interested stakeholders, has still not got off the ground.  The Manager of Community Services, who was tasked with its formation, still continues to have too much on his plate.

The Sub-Fire Station is still not completed and the contractor has not been brought to book.  There is a potential problem here as an operational sub fire station is one of the CAA Aerodrome re-licencing requisites.  So far we have been given exemption, but this will not go on indefinitely.

The situation of not having fuel available also began last year. In early 2020, a process called RFQ (Request for Quotation) was initiated by the Council, to purchase R200,000 worth of fuel, without going to tender, as a temporary measure. Then Covid 19 happened with the lockdown, and everything ground to a halt.

During 2020 the company who was going to supply the fuel, VRST, entered into negotiations with BP, who own the fuel facility at the Airport, to take over the maintenance and running of the equipment.  After doing a lot of work on the equipment, and having joint inspections with BP, VRST have finally signed a 3 year contract with BP for use and responsibility of the equipment.

VRST put 10 000 litres of both Avtur and Avgas into the tanks in September 2020 and currently have presented the Council with a proposal for the long- term sale of fuel.  This is suggesting that VRST have a contract to supply fuel and handlers, and pay the Council a fixed amount per litre of fuel sold.  This proposal will go to the Council meeting in November for consideration.  In the meantime, there is still no fuel being dispensed.

During the lockdown level 3, the Council and Cemair put in a stout effort to get the Airport Covid compliant for commercial flights, and passed the CAA inspection for this, in late August.  Cemair began flights to George in July, and to Plett in late Sept.  At present they are doing 2 flights weekly to /from JHB and CT, on Friday and Sunday.  This should increase to daily flights as from 12th December 2020 for the holiday period until January 2021.

There was some interest shown during the year by certain individuals to resurrect the Hangar Owners’ Association, but up to date nothing has happened.

Alien vegetation remains a big problem on the airfield, with vicious re-growth occurring.  There is a plan for clearing in place, subject to funds being available.

In closing, I would like to congratulate Cemair on their tenacity, help and commitment to keep a scheduled service to Plett a reality, under very trying circumstances, especially with the tourist industry being so adversely affected by the Covid 19 pandemic.