SAA Strike Action Confirmed

JOHANNESBURG, 14 November 2019 – According to a statement released by South African Airways (SAA), nearly all domestic, regional and international SAA flights will be cancelled on Friday, 15th and Saturday, 16th November 2019 due to planned strike action.

Note that only flights operated by SAA will be affected. All flights operated on partner airlines, including SA Express, Mango, SA Airlink and all codeshare partners including flights operated by their Star Alliance airlines will NOT be affected. Contact the airlines directly should you have any queries regarding reimbursements.

If travelling this weekend, please make sure you arrive EARLY to avoid any frustrations that may arise due to the planned strike action.

According to the flight booking aggregator Travelstart, the following SAA flights will be operating so you can still proceed to the airport:

  • SA147 15 November 2019 Maputo – Johannesburg
  • SA067 15 November 2019 Lusaka – Johannesburg
  • SA025 15 November 2019 Harare – Johannesburg
  • SA073 15 November 2019 Windhoek – Johannesburg
  • SA210 15 November 2019 Accra – Johannesburg
  • SA261 15 November 2019 Frankfurt – Johannesburg
  • SA204 15 November 2019 New York – Johannesburg
  • SA265 15 November 2019 Munich – Johannesburg
  • SA287 15 November 2019 Hong Kong – Johannesburg
  • SA281 15 November 2019 Perth – Johannesburg
  • SA235 15 November 2019 London – Johannesburg
  • SA210 15 November 2019 Washington via Accra – Johannesburg

In addition, the following flight number ranges would operate normally:

  • SA1000 to SA1999
  • SA2000 to SA2999
  • SA7000 to SA7999
  • SA8000 to SA8999

All other airlines will continue its operations notwithstanding the threatened industrial action at South African Airways Technical (SAAT).

“Contingency plans are in place to mitigate any impact the SAAT strike may have on Comair’s fleet availability and flight schedule. We will do everything possible to keep customers informed and to minimise the impact of any SAAT strike action. Serving our customers remains our priority,” says Wrenelle Stander, Comair’s Joint CEO.

Comair customers can check the latest flight information on the relevant websites (ba.com / kulula.com), and customers with urgent enquiries can call 011 921 0222 for British Airways or 086 158 5852 for kulula.

An official statement from Mango Airlines regarding the SAA announcement, states that Mango will continue to operate and, like many airlines in South Africa, will be working together with SAA to re-accommodate passengers stranded by the strike.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to work hard to make sure guests reach their destination. We have contingency plans in place and are ready to activate them should we experience any disruptions to our service during this time. All Guests should please continue to check with us regarding their flight status whether on our social media or through our call centre,” the statement concludes.

The South African Cabin Crew Association and the National Union of Metal Workers have stated that the strike action was initiated following SAA’s revelation that it may have to retrench workers as part of its turnaround strategy.

“SAA is playing into the hands of opportunistic unions as they continue to hold the national carrier to ransom,” says Natasha Mazzone MP, the Democratic Alliance (DA) Chief Whip of the Official Opposition. “The defunct and cash-strapped SAA will undoubtedly remain on a collision course if its leadership structures allow unions to drive the entity deeper into the ground with these actions. Furthermore, by bowing to industrial threats, SAA loses all trust from consumers who make this carrier their airline of choice. Even more harrowing is the fact that certain foreign states will not allow SAA to continue flying into their airspaces if it displays continued degrees of uncertain viability.”

Efforts by new SAA management and directors to turn around the fraught state-owned entity (SOE) have not amounted to anything. Reports today indicate that the SOE will be losing over R50 million per day due to the catastrophic decision to ground its flights in anticipation of this strike action. This loss in revenue is compounded by the fact that the airline is already technically insolvent, without sufficient capital to fund its daily operations.

“SAA is currently operational solely due to continued state handouts, much like Eskom. The DA thus reiterates its calls for Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, to place SAA under business rescue and to immediately shutdown SA Express.

“Furthermore, by placing SAA under business rescue, the entity will be somewhat able to mitigate the extensive impact of its planned job cuts, as announced earlier this week. As it stands, SAA plans to cut 944 jobs, which translates to almost a fifth of its workforce in order to bring its runaway costs under control.

“The airline has been a massive financial drain on the fiscus and the only solution beyond business rescue would be the partial or full privatisation of the SOE. This would prevent SAA from having any further negative impact on South Africa’s economy. These decisions must be accompanied by strict reforms which will also prevent unions from holding the airline, and to an extent, South Africa’s economy, to ransom,” Mazzone concludes.

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