South Africa's Department of Transport (DoT) is continuing to process the licence application of African Star, despite the start-up's chief executive facing charges of contravening the country's Customs & Excise Act.

Investigators refuse to comment on the case, but sources say that the diversion of duty-free goods by Capt Joe Kirama is being probed. The trial is set for 16 September.

In April, African Star announced that it had been granted a licence from the DoT to operate scheduled flights from Johannesburg to Munich and London (Flight International, 28-4 April). The carrier wants to operate four direct flights a week to Munich, in Germany, and three to the UK's London Stansted. The licence has been approved in principle, but not issued, as the applicant has yet to meet various provisions.

The DoT says it is going ahead with processing the licence as the company is the applicant, not Kirama as an individual. "In terms of the law, there was no obligation on applicants to disclose that they were facing criminal charges, nor that they had a criminal record," says the DoT.

Earlier this month, Kirama and his management team were in Singapore, where two Boeing 747-300s and an Airbus A310-200 are parked, awaiting delivery. The aircraft and a full flight simulator, all bought from Singapore Airlines, were due for delivery in April. A consultant to the airline says a chief pilot and chief engineer have been hired, but that the start-up capital has not been released. The carrier had said that $150 million had been raised from local investors.

African Star is also trying to gain traffic rights out of Zambia, with plans to fly from Johannesburg to London Gatwick via Lusaka.

Source: Flight International