Skywise has hired new management with plans to resume commercial operations.

Speaking exclusively to Tourism Update on the back of his recent appointment as chairman of the cash-strapped low-cost carrier, South African entrepreneur, Faizal Motlekar, says he plans to turn things around at Skywise.

Motlekar, the founder and chairman of private equity investment holding company, Motlekar Holdings, says Skywise will receive delivery of new aircraft in 2018.

“The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) will manufacture brand-new aircraft for us,” he says.

He says the relaunch of the airline will not be without major challenges but knowing that it is backed by an aircraft manufacturer is a step in the right direction.

Although the airline has old aircraft it can use, Motlekar says the plans to launch commercial flights will only take off once the airline is ready. “It would be premature to provide details of our business plan and give a date as to when exactly the first flight will be because I want to plan the details correctly to avoid repeating past mistakes.”

Former chairman of Skywise, Javed Malik, said the airline would begin flights in October this year.

Although Skywise was grounded in December last year after failing to pay various airport fees to Acsa, its air operator’s certificate is still valid and, to retain it, the airline needs to fly on an ad-hoc basis.

According to Motlekar, 95% of the passengers who were left stranded when Skywise was suddenly grounded have been refunded, while the other 5% are still in dispute. “These disputes are being sorted out as we speak,” he says.