South African carrier CemAir—grounded by the nation’s regulator for almost the first two weeks of February over the qualifications of maintenance staff—aims to relaunch services around Feb. 21, CEO Miles van der Molen said Feb. 15.

CemAir operates both scheduled and non-scheduled services in and beyond South Africa. The Johannesburg-based airline has a mixed fleet of Bombardier CRJ100s, Dash 8 turboprops and Beech 1900D commuter aircraft.

The South African CAA (SACAA) suspended the airworthiness certificates of 12 of CemAir’s fleet Feb. 2 after inspectors discovered during an audit that some aircraft serviced at CemAir’s Aircraft Maintenance Organization (AMO) had been released back to service, or cleared as airworthy, by unqualified personnel.

The dispute centers around the precise level and nature of qualifications held by the staff. CemAir said the personnel are qualified, licensed engineers with training on the specific aircraft types affected. Van der Molen told ATW the problem is “a very technical issue.”

On Feb. 15, the SACAA confirmed the 12 aircraft remain grounded and the suspension of the airline’s AMO remains in place.

The SACAA added that CemAir had developed and submitted “corrective action plans,” but they did not adequately address all the CAA’s findings and more work needs to be done. It added that grounding of aircraft or suspension of permits “is not the type of decision that is taken lightly, or taken without compelling reasons.”

An SACAA spokesman said that, despite the rejection of the first action plans, “I would emphasize that there is progress.”

Van der Molen said CAA inspectors are reviewing all necessary documentation on the maintenance side of the business and inspecting the maintenance facility. Inspections of the affected aircraft are also required, a process he hopes can be conducted in parallel with the facility inspection.

Alan Dron