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Business as usual for Nationwide
The Nationwide planes are back in the air after a lengthy stint on the ground, but the airline is struggling to refund passengers whose flights were cancelled during a two-month service disruption.

Nationwide Airlines is back in the air after its services were disrupted for about two months following its grounding last year.

Asked if it was safe to say the airline was back to normal, Nationwide's Director of Corporate Quality, Rodger Whittle, said: "Yes, we are."

Now, the main issue the airline was grappling with was refunding customers who could not use their tickets while the grounding order had been in place. Many had already been refunded, but the process was continuing, Whittle said.

Passengers who bought their tickets months before the November grounding not only had difficulty getting on to other flights during the festive peak season, they also had to pay for new tickets.

Soon after the Civil Aviation Authority grounding, other airlines tried to assist Nationwide passengers who were stranded. But they could not, because the International Air Transport Authority had suspended Nationwide from its inter-changeable ticket scheme by freezing its funding. This meant that people who wanted to fly with other airlines had to buy new tickets while they waited for their refunds.

"It is just a matter of getting through the work. We had a team working through Christmas. Another problem is that people had booked through travel agencies. But we have refunded thousands of people already," said Whittle, though he could not say how many people still had to be refunded.

Whittle denied that the airline was planning to sell, but said it was looking for an investment partner.

"We've been looking for an investment partner for years. It is nothing new," he said.

The airline was grounded after an engine fell off one of its planes during takeoff at Cape Town International Airport.

  • This article was originally published on page 2 of The Mercury on January 04, 2008
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