South African Airways Cancels Most Flights For Friday & Saturday (November 15 – 16, 2019)

Embattled South African Airways has canceled most flights scheduled to take place this Friday and Sunday except those that bring back the crews and planes due to planned indefinite cabin crew strike.

The airline has lost billions over the years and needs to restructure its operations, has told that quarter of its workforce needs to go.

You can access SAA’s website here.

Here are the flights that are operating on Wednesday:

  • Maputo                   SA147      07:30        08:35
  • Lusaka                    SA067     07:15        09:15
  • Harare                    SA025      07:20       09:00
  • Windhoek               SA073      06:40       08:25
  • Accra                      SA210      09:10       16:55
  • Frankfurt                 SA261      20:45       08:25 next day
  • New York                SA204      10:40       08:15 next day
  • Munich                    SA265      21:05       07:40 next day
  • Hong Kong              SA287      23:50       07:10 next day
  • Perth                       SA281      23:40       04:55 next day
  • London                    SA235      19:00       07:05 next day
  • Washington             SA210      17:40       17:25 next day

These are essentially flights to bring back the crews and planes to Johannesburg.

Here’s the announcement from the airline:

JOHANNESBURG. 13 November 2019. South African Airways (SAA) has cancelled nearly all its domestic, regional and international flights scheduled for Friday, 15 November and Saturday, 16 November 2019. The airline’s key objective is to minimise the impact of disruptions for its customers.

The cancellations follow an announcement by the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) that their members will embark on industrial action from Friday morning. This is notwithstanding SAA’s repeated overtures to the unions to acknowledge the severity of the current situation facing the airline.

“We are putting our customers first and regret the inevitable inconvenience that these cancellations may cause our customers. However, by acting proactively SAA can certainly help customers find alternatives,” said Tlali Tlali, SAA Spokesperson.

“Unless alternative arrangements are in place, customers are requested not to go to their departure airports during the disruption as SAA will be unable to provide any assistance. Information on the status of our flights will be regularly updated on our website,” said Tlali.

Only flights operated by South African Airways will be affected. All flights operated on partner airlines, including SA Express, Mango, SA Airlink and all codeshare partners, including flights operated by our Star Alliance partner airlines will not be affected. These flights can be identified by their flight numbers and will operate as normal: SA 1000 – 1999, SA 2000 – 2999, SA 7000 – 7999 and SA 8000 to 8999.

SAA will operate flights from selected outstations on Friday 15 November 2019 back to SAA’s base, OR Tambo International Airport.

Regional flights, which will operate on Friday morning, will return from Maputo (SA147), Lusaka (SA067), Harare (SA025), Windhoek (SA073), and Accra (SA210).

International flights, which will operate on Friday evening, will return from Frankfurt (SA261), New York (SA204), Munich (SA265), Hong Kong (SA287), Perth (SA281), Washington (SA210) and London (SA235).

The airline will assess the situation on an ongoing basis and Customers will be kept informed of all operational developments on a daily basis.

Tlali stated that, during the negotiations with the unions, SAA presented a revised offer for employees delivering a 5.9% increase subject to the availability of funds from lenders. NUMSA and SACCA are demanding an 8% increase.

National Transport Movement (NTM) has not stated whether their members will embark on a strike or not.

SAA attempted to dissuade the unions from embarking on industrial action by providing firm commitment dates to SAA’s offer of 5.9%. Discussions are continuing to resolve the wage matter at the time of issuing the statement.

SAA will spare no effort to work jointly with the labour unions to find solutions that accommodate the employee demands, safeguard the business and return operations to normal.

Conclusion

It has been reported in the South African media that the airline is vastly overpaying for many of its contracts that were awarded to those close to former president Zuma.

There is a chance that this strike is called off if the unions and SAA can reach an agreement. Otherwise, the strike is an open-ended one. There are other airlines in South Africa, including a BA franchisee Comair, but SAA is considered the flag carrier.

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