South African regional carrier Airlink is fighting to avoid being grounded after the country's transport ministry indicated that he would consider a block on the airline's operations.

The crisis follows the overrun of an Embraer ERJ-135 at George Airport on 7 December, and two other serious Airlink incidents in the previous three months - including the fatal loss of a British Aerospace Jetstream during a positioning flight.

South African transport minister Sibusiso Ndebele has expressed concern over the events, which have prompted regulatory scrutiny of the carrier's operations, and the ministry says Ndebele is "considering grounding the airline".

With South Africa's hosting of the World Cup football tournament just a few months away, the Government wants to eradicate any doubts over air safety.

Airlink has noted the ministry's concerns, and points out that it had operated for an "unblemished" 17 years before the Jetstream crash in September which claimed the life of the pilot.

"We will do whatever it takes to restore our reputation as a safe airline and rebuild public faith and confidence in the company," says chief executive Rodger Foster.

South Africa's Civil Aviation Authority is carrying out an audit of the carrier and the airline has also appointed an independent safety specialist, Capt Scully Levin, to review its procedures.

"To date, we have not received any feedback from the CAA that we are not compliant with local and international regulations or procedural best practice," says Foster.

"But this process must be allowed to run its course and we will move immediately to address any non-conformance which may be identified in the audit report."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news