[UPDATE 3] South African Airways Reinstates Flights to Seven International Destinations

South African Airways A330
South African Airways A330 | Airbus

South African Airways (SAA) will reinstate international flights to seven international destinations from Sunday night (November 17) and has advised passengers to report to their departure airport as normal when in possession of a rebooked itinerary.

“On behalf of South African Airways, I wish to apologise to all our passengers for the inconvenience and frustration caused by the cancellation of flights as a result of ongoing industrial action by the South African Cabin Crew Association and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa. Our passengers deserve a smooth and convenient service when they fly with South African Airways,” said South African Airways Chief Commercial Officer, Philip Saunders.

The airline took a decision to reinstate international service on its route network after assessment of its personnel numbers who are available and willing to operate the flights.

“Whilst some employees are on strike and have elected to do so in exercising their rights, the airline has a duty to render services to its customers where it has employees who have elected to report for work. All employees have rights protected in law on both sides of the divide,” the company said in a statement.

“We hope all our customers understand that the cancellations were beyond our control.  We pledged to rebook all passengers caught up in the flight cancellations. We are working hard towards this goal and we are pleased to resume flights to all our international destinations,” Saunders said.

The seven destinations are New York, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, Perth, London, Frankfurt, and Washington. Flights will depart from OR Tambo International Airport.

SAA has been working with its sister airline, Mango, to re-accommodate as many customers as possible traveling on domestic services.

[UPDATE 1 | November 18, 2019]

South African Airways announced its intention to resume flights to six destinations on the African continent, namely Accra, Lagos, Lusaka, Maputo, Windhoek and Harare, with effect from Tuesday, 19 November 2019.

This is in addition to all SAA’s International flights, which are now fully operational.

“SAA would like to record its appreciation for those staff deciding to work despite receiving threats and intimidation from the unions. It is clear that SAA’s people are increasingly determined to put our customers first,” the airline said. 

“We are pleased that SAA is now able to increase services and to offer our customers more flights on the African continent and that all our International flights are back on schedule. It is also important to assure SAA’s customers that our operations are safe and that the airline will never compromise on this core responsibility,” said Philip Saunders, SAA’s Chief Commercial Officer.

Customers booked to travel on SAA’s international services will now be able to travel as booked.

Customers travelling on SAA’s regional network to Accra, Lagos, Lusaka, Maputo, Windhoek and Harare will be rebooked on the reinstated services and contacted accordingly.

SAA is continuing to work with its partner airlines, Mango and SA Airlink, to re-book all customers travelling on domestic services for Tuesday 19 November 2019 and Wednesday 20 November 2019.

“Once again, we apologise to all our passengers for all the inconvenience caused. We are continuing discussions with labour and remain committed to reaching a prompt resolution in the best interests of all parties,” Saunders said.

[UPDATE 2 | November 19, 2019]

With all international and some regional flights back in operation, and domestic services carried out by sister airline Mango, South African Airways is on the road to operational recovery.

“We thank SAA employees who are back at work and those employees who have not joined the industrial action. They continue to carry our flag around the world. We also thank our loyal customers for supporting us in this difficult time”, said SAA Acting CEO, Zuks Ramasia.   

“We applaud our committed employees for understanding that the airline cannot afford salary increases at present, because of the financial difficulties we are facing. The National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) and South African Airways Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) are demanding a wage increase of 8%, whilst the company will only be in a position to pay 5.9% in March 2020, assuming funds are available at that time. We call on all our employees to return to work for the sake of our customers and the company. After all, our customers contribute to our salaries and it is only through their confidence and custom that we can secure the future for SAA and ensure our essential contribution to the country’s economy. We are also very mindful of the contribution made by taxpayers to our sustainability,” said Ramasia.

Today, Ramasia and her executives have given the media an update on the strike by members of SACCA and NUMSA. In the media conference, SAA management explained the state of negotiations with unions, the ’no-work, no-pay’ principle; and confirmed SAA’s continued commitment to safety.

“SAA would like to record its appreciation to those employees that have decided to return to work, despite receiving threats and intimidation from the unions. It is clear and encouraging that many of our employees are increasingly determined to put our customers first,” said Ramasia.

All flights to the airline’s eight international destinations are now operating as usual and on an ongoing basis.  

Today SAA is resuming flights to six destinations on the African continent, namely Accra, Lagos, Lusaka, Maputo, Windhoek and Harare.

[UPDATE 4 | November 21, 2019]

South African Airways announced the suspension of all services between Johannesburg and Hong Kong from Saturday, 23 November until and including, 14 December 2019. 

Read more here: South African Airways to Suspend Service to Hong Kong

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