Aviation

South African Airways axes some APAC routes to avoid bankruptcy

South African Airways (SAA) has announced restructuring plans it hopes will bring it from the brink.

The airline, which hasn’t made a profit since 2011, suffered huge financial losses in November last year after two of its largest unions began an eight-day strike, forcing the airline to cancel hundreds of flights.

It announced it would be placed into business rescue, a type of protection against bankruptcy, in December.

SAA’s Business Rescue Practitioners (BRPs) have worked closely with key stakeholders, industry specialists, government, creditors and executive management to develop a restructuring program, which will be published in late February.

The program will include changes to the route network, deployment of more fuel-efficient aircraft, optimisation of organisational structures and renegotiation of key contracts with suppliers.

Tim Clyde Smith, the airline’s regional general manager, has reassured the Australian market that the Perth to Johannesburg service is safe.

“This route has continued to make a profit over the last 6 years and again we extend our heartfelt thanks for the continued support from our industry partners and customers over this period,” Clyde Smith said.

“This is a positive outcome of a business allowed to voluntarily enter business rescue and restructure itself whilst it continues to operate.

“It is, however, with a heavy heart that we advise of the termination of the Guangzhou and Hong Kong services in my portfolio.

“This is a decision by the Business Rescue Practitioners and our family there and our customers affected are our first and foremost priority.”

On other routes, SAA will continue to operate all international services between Johannesburg and Frankfurt, London Heathrow, New York, Perth and Washington via Accra.

Regional services to be retained include from Johannesburg to Blantyre, Dar es Salaam, Harare, Kinshasa, Lagos, Lilongwe, Lusaka, Maputo, Mauritius, Nairobi, Victoria Falls, Livingston and Windhoek.

On 29th February 2020, SAA will close the following regional and international services from Johannesburg to Abidjan via Accra, Entebbe, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Luanda, Munich, Ndola, and Sao Paulo.

On the domestic route network, SAA will continue to serve Cape Town on a reduced basis.

All other domestic destinations, including Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth, will cease to be operated by SAA on 29th February 2020. Domestic routes operated by Mango will not be affected by the changes.

All customers booked on any cancelled international and regional routes will receive a full refund. Customers booked on cancelled domestic flights will be re-accommodated on services operated by Mango.

SAA’s flight schedule for February remains unchanged and passengers have been advised to consult the airline’s website for more information.

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