The South African Civil Aviation Authority has fined India’s Jet Airways R80,000 ($8,800) after a chartered Airbus A330 carrying wedding guests from India to Sun City landed at a nearby military airport without permission and proper paperwork.
The incident has locally become known as “Guptagate” as the charter was organized by the wealthy and politically connected Gupta family, owners of TNA Media in Midrand, South Africa.
According to the aviation authority, the aircraft landed at the Waterkloof air force base in South Africa on April 30 without prior written permission. Government officials required that the aircraft be moved to a civilian airport, in this case the OR Tambo International airport, where the aviation authority confirmed that the aircraft did not have a Foreign Operator Permit, a requirement for a civilian operation.
The aircraft did however conform to “all other safety related requirements such as a valid Certificate of Airworthiness, and its maintenance records were up to date”, officials say.
“According to the International Air Service Act, a foreign operator should notify South Africa of their intention to land in this country and in doing so they must comply with the requisite regulations governing the operation of an aircraft,” says the aviation authority.
Local news reports said the aircraft was carrying guests from India who were attending a Gupta family wedding in Sun City, leading to accusations of special treatment and the launch of a government corruption and national security probe that is continuing.
NOTE: A sharp reader pointed out that I made a mistake by converting from Indian Rupees to U.S. dollars (hence the $1,500 figure that was previously in this post) versus South African Rand to U.S. dollars, which comes out to about $8,800, a more realistic fine!)