Travellers are being advised that as many as 19 South African Airways (SAA) flights have been removed from the Airline Global Distribution Systems, as Treasury struggles to raise the necessary funds to keep SAA afloat.
Traveller24 has received confirmation via Flight Centre about the flight cancellations.
This follows a tweet by the Online Travel Agent, advising their customers that "a number of South African Airline's (SAA) domestic and international flights have been cancelled".
SAA has not yet confirmed any flight cancellations, with the last communication to the public being operations are "continuing as normal" on Monday, 20 January.
The airline has confirmed it will be issuing a statement shortly.
SAA is entering the final stretch of its business rescue process, with flight operations "continuing as normal".
When SAA was placed into business rescue on 5 December 2019, Treasury pledged to match a R2-billion loan provided by banks - however it is struggling to raise these funds. Business Rescue Practitioners (BRP) Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana are expected to publish their business rescue plan by the end of February 2020.
These are the key developments that have taken place since then:
I am an SAA ticket holder, what should I do?
SAA confirmed on Monday 20, January that flights scheduled for all destinations are "continuing as normal". SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali says the airline will communicate "any significant operational changes that may have an impact on flight schedules, should they come into effect".
"Where there may be flight schedule amendments, such operational changes will be managed and communicated in accordance with the industry norms and practices," says Tlali.
But what would happen if liquidation takes place?
The airline would be obliged to move passengers to alternative airlines, or alternatively passengers can apply for a refund. Passengers wanting to err on the side of caution by cancelling your ticket you would be subject to a fee, depending on where you are departing from (with the added cost of rebooking applicable).
The refund and cancellation conditions according to SAA's website are as follows:
- Administration Fees for cancellations for flight bookings departing from South Africa An Administration Fee of R285 will be charged per passenger in addition to any applicable cancellation or rebooking fee.
- Administration Fees for cancellations for flight bookings departing from Europe for all flight bookings made via flysaa.com , a Cancellation Administration Fee of EUR 30,-/CHF 50,-/USD 42,-/DKK 225/SEK 280/NOK 235 (depending on the currency used to pay for your ticket) will be charged per passenger in addition to any applicable cancellation or rebooking fee.
- Australia charges administration fee of AUD 50 for refund, rebooking, reissue and it is non - refundable. South America
- An administration fee of USD25 will be charged per passenger in addition to any applicable cancellation fee // In case of dates or itinerary changes, a fee of USD20 will be charged per passenger in addition to any fare difference or/and rebooking fee, according to the applicable fare rule.
- You can contact their call centre for full assistance on 0861 606 606 or 011 978 1111 - or visit the SAA website.
SAA and Airlink to operate separate flight codes
Airlink announced on Thursday, 16 January that it will separate itself from SAA and start operating on its own flight code - '4Z'. This independence will give the airline "more opportunities to develop more routes, frequencies and agreements with other international airlines," according to Airlink.
The flight code separation will come into full effect from 11 June 2020.
Passengers urged to use their SAA Voyager miles to avoid BR complications
For now future miles earned via SAA Voyager will continue. The full extent of how the program will be managed as business rescue continues remains uncertain.
The airline is engaging with SAA Voyager’s more than 65 partners since entering business rescue - but "all current miles remain valid for redemption". Analysts speculate the business rescue plan "could see SAA modify, suspend or cancel the Voyager programme" - but the advice is to cash them in soonest to avoid complications further down the line.
SAA may sell prime slots like Heathrow London
Treasury is trying to convince banks to supply SAA with more loans, "guaranteed with proceeds from asset sales".
The airline is selling off some of its aircraft but this is said to have nothing to do with the voluntary business rescue process. The airline states it has "put some of its aircraft up for sale to accommodate its new Airbus A350-900s recently added to its fleet".
While its intentions have yet to be published, prime slots at airports such London’s Heathrow could be on the table.
Fin24 analysis details that the airline's BR strategy should look to offload its loss-making international business, as these are the routes it have the most competition, compounded by the airline’s "poor aircraft utilisation" and the challenge of Johannesburg's location adding "complexity to running a profitable long-haul international business".
Board members have started resigning
Board members are being called on to resign since the appointment of a business rescue practitioner in December, with Martin Kingston doing so over the weekend.
Trade unions the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) welcomed the resignation of SAA director. The two unions also reiterated their call for the rest of the cash-strapped state-owned airline's board to quit.
Kingston confirmed his resignation saying there was "no need" for him to be on the board in the wake of the appointment of business rescue practitioners.