CemAir: What about the refunds?
In January TNW reported that CemAir had confirmed that refunds would be granted within eight weeks but when TNW followed up in early March, CEO of CemAir, Miles van der Molen, said payments had been delayed as a result of fraudulent claims and its suspension on BSP.
Miles, however, was less than candid when asked again about refunds, saying only that the process was ongoing.
ITC Rene Toner showed TNW an email dated from the beginning of the year outlining the wild goose chase that the airline had sent her on.
Rene initially followed up on her clients’ refunds in February when, according to communication from the airline, the refunds should already have been paid out. CemAir then asked Rene to complete a new refund application which it said would be processed in 56 days. During April, when Rene chased them again, they asked her to complete a third refund application together with proof of bank details. In July she finally received an email from them advising that the refunds had been logged.
“Please note that we are awaiting final settlement from IATA, which will be round about the second period of August 2019. Once we have received same, we will continue to process the refunds,” said CemAir at the time.
Rene said another batch of email follow-ups went unanswered until CemAir’s Winique Knoetze responded on September 4 to say they were still battling with a massive backlog and that they could not give her a definite date of payment. When Rene responded saying she expected the funds to be transferred within the week, Winique advised her to get in contact with CemAir’s legal adviser.
Direct passengers don’t seem to be having any more luck. The airline has a one-star rating on hellopeter.com with ongoing complaints being logged by dozens of passengers who have still not received their refunds. Theresa Robertson, a direct passenger who is still waiting to be paid back, said her emails to the airline had gone unanswered for months now.
Travel consultant Charmaine Lombard from Dana Agency said she had received one batch of refunds around March this year and expected to receive the remaining eight very soon. She said she would still try to support the airline if it started flying again.
When TNW pressed Miles for an indication of how many refunds were still outstanding and when he expected the process to be completed, he said: “It’s difficult to track because the outstanding claims are not all settled directly.”
Malta rumours addressed
TNW also questioned Miles about the industry rumours that he was moving aircraft to CemAir Malta – an operation that TNW understands was opened in 2015.
“We have no aircraft in Malta and the project is on hold. A large portion of our work has always been outside SA and this was to support this work. Leasing in Europe is difficult when aircraft are registered in SA, as other markets have become wary of SA operators,” said Miles.