Cemair’s horror story at hands of the state is CR’s opportunity 

Today it’s exactly a year ago that Cyril Ramaphosa hosted champion Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma at his annual SA Investment Summit. The founder of AliBaba was so impressive that Ramaphosa urged those present to treat entrepreneurs as heroes. Cemair’s founder Miles van der Molen, must be wondering whether that was all hot air.

On my Rational Radio show yesterday, Van der Molen shared a horror story that even Jack Ma would battle to overcome. State airline SA Express – which the Free Market Foundation says received R1.5bn in subsidies last year – used taxpayer money for predatory pricing. For instance, when Cemair started flying to Bloemfontein, SA Express suddenly slashed its fares by 40%.

Worse, Cemair’s 23 planes, which fly 150,000 passengers a year to under-serviced smaller centres like Plettenberg Bay, Margate, Richard’s Bay and Sishen, was grounded in December by SA’s Civil Aviation Authority on spurious grounds. Its appeal took four months to hear, but on 29 April the court overturned CAA’s decision, describing it as “irrational, arbitrary, unreasonable and procedurally unfair”.

Despite winning six-love in court, Cemair still isn’t flying. Because those same bad actors in the CAA are dragging their heels in renewing the airline’s licence. Hardly the treatment one might expect for a hero. Cyril should step in. He’ll rarely have a better opportunity to show those noble sentiments expressed so publicly a year ago wasn’t just talk.

*If international property investment interests you, join us at 12:30 SA time today for a webinar with Cape property icon Johnny “Century City” Rabie who will share details about his first offshore project, Lisbon’s LX Living. It’s open to all, but you do need to register beforehand.