SAA to halt direct flights to India

4th February 2015 By: Megan van Wyngaardt - Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

SAA to halt direct flights to India

Photo by: Duane Daws

As part of its ongoing network optimisation process, embattled South African Airways (SAA) will stop flying directly to Mumbai, India, as this will help to “stem substantial losses”.

From April 1, the airline would redirect flights to all Indian destinations through Abu Dhabi through its new direct service with onward code-share agreement connections with airlines Etihad and Jet Airways into the Indian subcontinent.

Last week, SAA acting CEO Nico Bezuidenhout announced the reconfiguration of flights between South Africa and China with code-share agreements also expanding airline network reach. “Optimisation of the SAA network is an ongoing process and a critical aspect of the Long-Term Turnaround Strategy. It is also a key deliverable of the 90 Day Action Plan,” he added.

The move presented significant commercial opportunity to the airline.

“This is a double win for the business. Connectivity between South Africa and major economic centres within two strategically important [India and China] member States has been increased substantially, while an immediate balance sheet gain curbs losses on challenging routes.

“The commercial opportunity has grown tenfold at both ends of a sound business case,” Bezuidenhout said, adding that he expected the positive impact of the remedial action to reflect during the 2015/16 financial year.

Meanwhile, the airline has retained its 4-Star rating from independent, global airline rating organisation Skytrax for the thirteenth consecutive year.

Bezuidenhout noted that the 4-Star rating showed that the company was “on the right path”, as it recognised continued quality improvement in the airline’s on-board product and service, as well as the continued improvements to airport product and service levels at its base in Johannesburg.

The Skytrax star ranking audit examines more than 800 areas of product and service delivery, across airport operations and the cabin experience.