This story has nothing to do with trucking but since there has been a lot of interest around the SA National Taxi Council forming its own airline, we thought our readers might like to see a few photographs of the first flight out of Lanseria airport which Patrick O’Leary witnessed.
It was actually by chance that I was there having flown in from Cape Town and stopped to have a cup of coffee on arrival. Sitting in the top restaurant, I noticed a number of men and women dressed in smart black suits and dresses with yellow ties and scarves. Musicians were also dismantling their equipment on the verandah.
Something was going on so I asked one of the yellow scarved ladies what it was. “It’s the first flight for the new Santaco airline. It’s taking off now,’ she said excitedly.
This was a bit of history in the making so I grabbed my camera bag and went out onto the verandah. And there it was , a white Santaco Airlines Boeing 737 with a maroon stripe taxing towards the runway for its first flight to Bhisho in the Eastern Cape. I looked left and there were hordes of journalists and photographers recording this moment in aviation history.
I noticed a group of people standing on the far side of the apron area looking as if they wanted a ride but the plane just ‘˜taxied’ , if you’ll excuse the pun – past them. I heard the pilot shout out the window: “We’re full up with freebies. You’ll have to catch a taxi.’
I leant afterwards that on board were President Jacob Zuma, Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport, Ismail Vadi, Transport Minister S’bu Ndebele, Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet, other members of Parliament and Santaco bosses.
There was great excitement and ululations from the women as the plane charged down the runway picking up speed until it lifted off. It was a great moment.
We heard afterwards that the plane landed three times on the pavement between Lanseria and Pretoria to pick up passengers , and some goats. Nah! It got all the way to Bhisho without any stops or problems.
There has been a lot of scepticism about a taxi association starting an airline but hey, go for it Santaco. At least it will take some taxis off the road and give more work to the trucks that service aircraft at airports. Good luck to all involved. May it be a huge success.