A Skywise aeroplane in flight.  Picture: SUPPLIED
Picture: SUPPLIED

LOW-cost airline Skywise said on Tuesday it had lodged a complaint with the Competition Commission regarding the way it says it was treated by the Airports Company SA (Acsa).

Skywise alleges that Acsa’s grounding of Skywise flights was "an abuse of dominance and a prohibited practice".

According to Skywise co-chair Tabassum Qadir, it is prohibited for a dominant firm to refuse to give access to an essential facility when it is economically feasible to do so.

"We appeal to the Competition Tribunal to investigate and order the end to this prohibited practice," Mr Qadir said in a statement.

"How was it economically feasible for Acsa to suspend Skywise Airlines in December for an arrear instalment of R1.6m, while it had a deposit of R1.9m and Skywise was on a fly-as-you-pay arrangement?" asked Skywise co-chair Javed Malik.

He said Skywise had lost projected revenue of more than R50m in December. "It was a deliberate attempt and very soon we will reveal this," said Mr Malik.

In December Skywise also started legal proceedings against Acsa in the High Court in Johannesburg.

In terms of the summons served on Acsa, the low-cost airline is claiming damages as a result of a breach of contract by Acsa.

Acsa informed Skywise earlier in December that it was not in a position to accede to the low-cost airline’s suggested payment terms for outstanding debt as well as future charges.

Acsa suspended Skywise’s flights on December 2 due to unpaid airport charges for landing, take-off, parking of aircraft and related service charges. At that time Skywise had already appealed to President Jacob Zuma, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters, Acsa and South African Airways for assistance. It also sought investors.

Skywise brand ambassador Ndileka Mandela, a granddaughter of Nelson Mandela, also expressed the wish that the authorities would resolve the issue of the grounding of Skywise flights.

Acsa maintains that its decisions regarding Skywise were taken in its own best commercial interests, and to ensure the sustainability of the aviation industry.

Fin24