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SAA grounds 162 flights due to coronavirus

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‘Where feasible, we will consider options that include cancelling and merging flights.’

JOHANNESBURG – South African Airways (SAA) said on Wednesday that it had cancelled 162 international and regional flights until the end of this month due to low demand and restrictions linked to the coronavirus.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday announced travel bans affecting several countries where SAA flies, including the United States, Britain and Germany. 

SAA said in a statement, “In the light of the substantial fall in demand for air travel, SAA has reviewed its flight schedule and has decided to operate flights only under circumstances where its load factors and other business considerations weigh in favour of scheduling flights. However, certain flights that have been negatively impacted more than others, are consequently cancelled.”

“Notwithstanding the decline in demand, SAA continues to aggressively review its schedule to match capacity with demand to the extent possible. Where feasible, we will consider options that include cancelling and merging flights,” SAA Chief Commercial Officer, Philip Saunders said.

For the period 17 until 31 March 2020, SAA has cancelled a total of 162 flights. Of these, 38 are international and 124 are regional (destinations on the African continent) flights.

Earlier today, SA Express said it will suspend its operations from Wednesday, March 18, it revealed in a press statement. 

The airline stated: “In light of adverse recent developments including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, SA Express announces that it will suspend operations from 18 March 2020 until further notice.”

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE / REUTERS