South African Airways (SAA) acting CEO Zuks Ramasia on Sunday assured the country that the ongoing strike at the airline was not compromising the safety and security of its operations. She called on the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the South African Cabin Crew Association to withdraw their allegations that flying SAA is currently unsafe. She stated that, if they did not, the airline would consider legal action against them.
“SAA has a proven safety record and we have an unwavering commitment to safety,” she affirmed. “The safety and security of passengers and crew is the highest single priority to SAA. We do not compromise on that. … We remain committed to ensuring the highest levels of safety and security on all our flights. The unions’ allegations are malicious and represent an unfounded attack, as well as an insult to the [South African] Civil Aviation Authority, South African Airways, and South African Airways Technical.”
Ramasia also attacked attempts to intimidate SAA employees who had remained at work. She denounced inflammatory insults (“traitors”) and threats (“we know where you are”) made against them.
“The airline will not tolerate those seeking to intimidate those wishing to report for duty,” she assured. “Employees who intimidate or assault other employees, cause damage to SAA property or engage in any criminal act or misconduct may be liable for criminal prosecution, internal disciplinary action, or arrested. … Security personnel at all access gates and parking areas have been increased, assisted by members of the South African Police Services to ensure that employees and vehicles are safe, including monitoring of access roads.”
She warned that the strike would significantly harm the airline’s finances. The industrial action was imperilling SAA’s future. It could cause “fatal damage”. She also warned of the damage to the wider South African economy if Numsa succeeded in calling a secondary strike across the wider aviation industry.
Subsequently, on Monday, SAA announced that all its international flights were back on schedule and that it would resume regional African flights to Accra, Harare, Lagos, Lusaka, Maputo and Windhoek, with effect from Tuesday. The airline was working with low cost carrier Mango (also part of the SAA Group) and partner (but independent) airline SA Airlink to re-book all SAA passengers travelling on domestic routes on Tuesday (19 November) and Wednesday (20 November).