COVID-19: SAA suspends all international and regional flights until 31 May

The South African Airways (SAA) has announced the suspension of all its international and regional flights until 31 May, 2020.

In a statement on Friday, SAA said the decision follows a travel ban instituted by the government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The decision means SAA will only render services domestically between Johannesburg and Cape Town,” SAA said.

High-risk destinations

The government has issued a notice, effective from Friday, prohibiting the embarkation and disembarkation of crew and passengers from SAA’s three international destinations designated as high-risk – New York, Washington DC, Frankfurt and London – except under certain circumstances.

SAA Acting CEO Zuks Ramasia said the decision was taken in support of the government’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 and in the best interests of SAA’s crew, passengers and the public.

“It is a responsibility of all of us, and not just government, to curb further transmission of the virus especially because we operate in the high-risk regions,” Ramasia added.

Regional destinations affected include Accra, Lusaka, Harare, Victoria Falls, Mauritius, Windhoek, Lagos and Entebbe.

Flights to Perth and Sao Paolo also suspended

SAA has also suspended flights to Perth and Sao Paolo because of “the significant reduction in demand for air travel as a result of various travel bans instituted worldwide.

SAA advised its customers to visit its website at http://www.flysaa.com or to contact their travel agents for further information.

The troubled airline is under business rescue and the suspensions are likely to add further uncertainty about its future.

In February, its business rescue practitioners, Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, announced that it was ceasing operations on all domestic routes except Johannesburg-Cape Town.

However, this decision was resisted by the government. Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said some domestic routes could be reinstated.

“We want absolute clarity on the routes, even some of the domestic routes that have currently been cancelled will be reinstated, perhaps in a different form,” he said.

Earlier in March, SAA also started a consultation process with labour unions in terms of Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act regarding possible job cuts.

The business rescue practitioners have until the end of March to publish a business rescue plan.

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