The Direction générale de l’aviation civile (DGAC), the French civil aviation authority, suspended Air Antilles Express flights on August 27, 2021. Thus, all routes connecting Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint-Martin, Dominica, and the Caribbean islands that the airline usually operates were canceled.
The authority says it had to suspend the airline because the maintenance schedules of some aircraft were not respected.
“During the monitoring of your organization since the beginning of 2021, we noted 8 major non-conformities, concerning the ATR and Twin fleets, which demonstrate that your management system does not make it possible to control compliance with the procedures required to ensure the airworthiness of these fleets of aircraft and the adequacy of the procedures,” the DGAC told the company.
Air Antilles operates a fleet composed of five ATR 42s, two ATR 72s, and four Twin Otters.
On August 30, 2021, CAIRE Group, the parent company of Air Antilles and Air Guyane, published a statement in which it denied “numerous erroneous information published in various media.”
Our AOC (Air Carrier Certificate) has never been suspended
Five aircraft in our fleet are still authorized for operation
The regulatory schedule for maintenance visits to our aircraft has always been respected
All our public transport flights have always been operated under the strictest safety conditions for our passengers.
Instead, the group explained that the grounding was due to a temporary suspension of the ability of its Continuing Airworthiness Management Organization (CAMO) to declare airworthiness for two out of the four types of aircraft operated by the company.
The air carrier gave the authority “administrative responses to the situation and organization of this service” in hopes to see the grounding lifted.
As for the discrepancies found by the DGAC, CAIRE Group claimed that anomalies were found in certain parts of an unspecified aircraft on a ferry flight from a subcontractor in the United States.
After five days of negotiations, the French Civil Aviation Safety Organization (OSAC) reportedly gave its green light on August 31, 2021, for Air Antilles to resume its flights, though the company remains under scrutiny according to La Tribune.