South Africa AirLink has made amends with South African Airways and will now honor tickets sold by the state carrier for travel onboard AirLink flights. However, this will be the last instance of AirLink flying under the SAA banner, with the airline canceling the franchise agreement.
What are the details?
In a statement on its website, AirLink has announced that it will be reissuing any tickets sold to passengers by South African Airways for flights beyond December 6. These new tickets will be issued under the banner of AirLink, not as SAA tickets.
The process of getting in touch with passengers, who mostly delayed travel on AirLink thanks to the coronavirus, will take a few weeks.
Additionally, AirLink won’t start the process until SAA has transferred the ticket revenue across. Once the money is in the bank account, then AirLink will honor the tickets. The airline said,
“The re-accommodation agreement will allow the transfer of the ticket sale revenue together with liability for service delivery to Airlink. Therefore until the re-accommodations have been affected, Airlink cannot arrange re-bookings as the ticket sale revenue is in SAA’s possession.”
Why did SAA have the ticket revenue?
South African Airways originally sold tickets to passengers to travel onboard AirLink flights, who operated a series of regional routes as a franchisee of SAA. Alas, AirLink discovered in November 2019 that SAA had used the revenue from the ticket sales as its working capital and not transferred the revenue AirLink as agreed. South African Airways is in special administration, which may have been a reason why the ticket sales did not transfer to AirLink.
AirLink paused the tickets (disrupting travel) and then followed through with a legal motion to recover the money from SAA. The matter went to the High Court in Johannesburg, who sided with SAA. AirLink has appealed to the court’s decision; however, the matter is still ongoing.
Since then, two additional issues have occurred:
- AirLink has agreed with SAA to honor the tickets if the revenue is transferred across.
- AirLink has also decided to end its franchise agreement on June 10, 2020, and will then operate with its aircraft as a separate entity. It is unknown if this means a new name or livery.
Simple Flying reached out to AirLink for comment.
Who is South Africa AirLink?
Founded in 1992, South Africa AirLink is a regional airline based in South Africa that has a fleet of 45 aircraft. The fleet ranges from Embraer 135s to BAe 146s and a few Embraer 190s.
In 1997 the airline joined forces with South Africa Airways and South Africa Airways Express in a strategic agreement to help run routes throughout regional South Africa and other neighboring countries, feeding customers to the more prominent routes leaving from the main hubs.
Trivia buffs will also know that AirLink is the only airline in the world to operate a regular weekly service to the incredibly remote south Atlantic territory of Saint Helena. The six-hour flight is run by a single Embraer 190.
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