The Polokwane International Airport has been reopened and welcomed its first flight on Monday morning.

The airport stopped operating five months ago after it was downgraded from a category-seven airport to category-two.

In April, the South African Civil Aviation Authority had downgraded the airport due to non-compliance of safety regulations.

A flight destined for Johannesburg also took off from its runway.

The passengers and e-hailing transport companies welcomed its re-opening.

“It is going to benefit me a lot, we have been down, our businesses closed even with this COVID-19, but today I am very much excited, I even got my first customer today,” says one e-hailing services operator.

“It is easier for everyone actually because people were wondering when it was going to happen, we have been missing a lot of customers, people were not able to go to Johannesburg in and out,” says another e-hailing services operator.

Airport downgrade 

Following the airport’s downgrade, airliner Airlink has stopped its flights to Polokwane.

The suspension of flights by the airliner left the province without any commercial flight services.

Airlink Chief Executive and Managing Director Rodger Foster said the decision to suspend flights is mandatory following the absence of aerodrome and rescue firefighter services.

The Gateway Airports Authority Limited (GAAL) which is responsible for managing all airports in Limpopo, was described as the worst-performing entity in the province by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts last year.

About R14 million was unaccounted for in the 2018/2019 financial year at GAAL.

-Additional reporting by Michael Makungo