Amid financial difficulties and massive restructuring, South African Airways (SAA) is continuing certain operations as an airline. The carrier had first guaranteed services until May 1st, which was then extended to May 8th. Although we are now three days past this date, the airline says it will continue to operate repatriation and cargo flights throughout the month of May.
On May 8th, the day the airline was expected to cease operations, a statement was put out on its website, which said the following:
“South African Airways (SAA) would like to reassure its customers and stakeholders that it will continue to operate repatriation and cargo flights during the month of May and beyond…The airline will honor all existing commitments to provide air transportation services to its customers and any other requests that it receives.”
Repatriation flight requests from all over the world
The airline says that it has received several repatriation flight requests from all over Africa, as well as the UK, the Middle East, the Far East, and North and South America. It says that it is considering these requests over the course of the month.
As opposed to requests from South Africans abroad wanting to get home, the repatriation flight requests are coming from various foreign governments who have their citizens stranded in South Africa.
Since the 3rd of April, South African Airways says that it has transported more than 9,100 passengers to six continents, carrying more than 870 tons of freight. The freight includes both export and import consignments, including essential humanitarian cargo.
“As long as such requests are received, SAA will endeavor to fulfill them,” the airline says.
Recently the airline suspended all domestic flights “in support of [the] national lockdown to fight coronavirus.” The airline’s international operations have been shut down since the end of March as well. The airline had the following messages posted on its website for stranded travelers:
- Foreign travelers stranded in South Africa: Please explore alternatives to SAA flights. If you’re unable to return to your home country, we encourage you to contact your Embassy or Consulate to inform your Government of your location.
- South African travelers stranded abroad: Please explore alternatives to SAA flights. If you’re unable to return to South Africa, we encourage you to contact your Embassy or Consulate to inform your Government of your location.
The airline rescue plan
It was in mid-April that we reported that the airline would no longer be receiving government support. Since then, it was revealed by the country’s Public Enterprises Minister, Pravin Gordhan, that there are plans to create a new airline from the ashes of SAA. According to Aerotime, Gordhan says that “stakeholders have agreed on a long-term vision and strategy” with a view to “the creation of a new dynamic airline.”
Administrators are expected to draft the airline rescue plan by the end of the month – just over two weeks from now.
Do you think the “new SAA” will be more successful than the first? What needs to be done to ensure a healthy new airline? Let us know in the comments!