The incident will be investigated by the SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA).
Foster said bird strikes were a “common occurrence” in aviation.
“Bird strikes happen. It's an aviation industry thing. There are always birds in the sky.”
While the airline had experienced numerous bird strikes over the years, this was the first time a strike had caused serious damage.
The aircraft would remain at Venetia pending the SACAA’s inspection while technicians assessed the damage. While the hole in the fuselage can be repaired, the investigators would need to assess what stress had been placed on the affected wing, Foster said.
Airlink has operated a fleet of Jetstream 41 aircraft since 1995, when it had 15 in service. The aircraft involved was nearing the end of its economic life, Foster added.
Some bird strikes have resulted in serious accidents.
In May 2021 pilot Derek Fitzgerald, 34, and student pilot Richard Morgan, 31, were killed when their Robinson R22 helicopter plunged into the Umgeni River in Durban North after a bird hit the tail rotor.