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Making dreams come true
Wednesday, November 09, 2011 | 00:00

Airports Company South Africa’s flagship airport O.R. Tambo International Airport and South Africa’s newest airline, Velvet Sky, will this week make dreams come true for dozens of disadvantaged children when they fly more than 50 Grade 7 pupils to Durban for a five-day, fun-filled holiday. Most of these children have never been away from their homes, have certainly never flown or even seen an airport or the sea. 

Most come from children's homes and from poverty-stricken backgrounds and live in informal settlements and rural areas. Included in the group of excited children embarking on this life-changing adventure are disabled learners from the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo School for the Disabled in Soweto. These young tourists are beneficiaries of the Independent Newspapers’ Star Seaside Fund. The children traveling this morning will be accompanied by child minders and teachers for whom flying will also be a whole new experience. They return next Tuesday evening on 15th November 2011.

Unathi Batyashe-Fillis, ACSA’s Communication and Brand Manager at O.R. Tambo International Airport said that, for ACSA, through their Corporate Social Investment programmes, they recognise and constantly seek to improve the quality of life for all communities. “Between June and August this year, we launched our massive winter warmer campaign with various schools in greater Ekurhuleni, through which we donated over 1 000 pairs of school shoes, clothes, much needed sports kit and rebuilt a park in Soweto. This month, we are going full steam ahead with our summer campaign, during which we will be donating books, uniforms and stationery to various schools. We are kicking-off this four-month campaign in partnership with Velvet Sky. We will be flying more than 50 Grade 7 pupils to Durban for a five-day, fun-filled holiday before the learners begin their high school experience in January 2012.”

She said they were very pleased to be partnering with one of their key stakeholders, Velvet Sky. “It is only fitting that, instead of bussing the children to Durban as was historically done through the fund, we are flying them. We commend Independent Newspapers for this wonderful initiative that certainly brings joy to children who live in stark poverty.”

Gary Webb, Chief Operating Officer of Velvet Sky, said the airline really welcomed the opportunity to join with ACSA’s flagship airport O.R. Tambo International to bring these youngsters to Durban. As one of South Africa’s newest and first 100-percent Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) airline companies, Velvet Sky currently operates between Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Polokwane and Port Elizabeth, offering a safe and reliable service to business and leisure travellers. The airline was established in 2008 by a diverse group of KwaZulu-Natal businessmen and operates acclaimed Boeing 737 series aircraft which have been sourced from international aircraft leasing company, Aergo. Velvet Sky’s vision is to open the way for more and more South Africans to enjoy air travel.

“So many South African children take flying across the country for granted. Unfortunately they are in the minority. Even those who are not struggling to survive in unimaginable poverty and difficult circumstances have relied on buses and taxis to cover long distances because airfares were out of reach of the ordinary South African. We’re going all out to change that by keeping costs down and service up. We care about our passengers – and this is the perfect opportunity to take this even further,” said Webb.

The Star Seaside Fund was established in 1910 and, since its inception, approximately 150 000 children from under privileged backgrounds across Gauteng have benefited. The fund provides seaside holidays for children in deserving circumstances, so that through proper housing, feeding, supervision, moral and physical care, recreation and amusement, their welfare and skills in building human relationships can be enhanced. During their stay in Durban, the children will be taken to various amusement parks and educational centres. ENDS

For more information, please contact:

Unathi Batyashe-Fillis
Manager: Communications and Brand Management
O.R. Tambo International Airport
Airports Company South Africa
Mobile: 079 882 7307
Email:  Unathi.batyashe-fillis@airports.co.za


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