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SAA strike will not impact city

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“We are putting our customers first and regret the inevitable inconvenience that these cancellations may cause our customers. However, by acting proactively SAA can certainly help customers find alternatives”

SOUTH African Airways (SAA) passengers in Kimberley are not likely to be affected by the airline’s decision to cancel nearly all its domestic, regional and international flights today and tomorrow following an announcement that flights operated on partner airlines, including SA Express and SA Airlink, will not be affected.

SAA cancelled all its scheduled domestic, regional and international flights for today and tomorrow.

The cancellations follow an announcement by the South African Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) that their members will embark on industrial action from this morning.

According to the airline, this is notwithstanding SAA’s repeated overtures to the unions to acknowledge the severity of the current situation facing the airline.

“We are putting our customers first and regret the inevitable inconvenience that these cancellations may cause our customers. However, by acting proactively SAA can certainly help customers find alternatives,” Tlali Tlali, SAA spokesperson, said.

He further warned passengers that unless alternative arrangements are in place, they should not to go to their departure airports during the disruption “as SAA will be unable to provide any assistance. Information on the status of our flights will be regularly updated on our website”, said Tlali.

Only flights operated by South African Airways will be affected.

All flights operated by partner airlines, including SA Express, and SA Airlink, which services Kimberley, as well as Mango and Star Alliance will not be affected. These flights can be identified by their flight numbers and will operate as normal: SA 1000 – 1999, SA 2000 – 2999, SA 7000 – 7999 and SA 8000 to 8999.

SAA will operate flights from selected outstations today back to SAA’s base at OR Tambo International Airport.

Regional flights operating this morning, will return from Maputo (SA147), Lusaka (SA067), Harare (SA025), Windhoek (SA073), and Accra (SA210).

International flights, will return from Frankfurt (SA261), New York (SA204), Munich (SA265), Hong Kong (SA287), Perth (SA281), Washington (SA210) and London (SA235) this morning.

“The airline will assess the situation on an ongoing basis and customers will be kept informed of all operational developments on a daily basis.”

Tlali stated that, during the negotiations with the unions, SAA presented a revised offer for employees delivering a 5.9% increase subject to the availability of funds from lenders. Numsa and Sacca are demanding an 8% increase.

National Transport Movement (NTM) has not stated whether their members will embark on a strike or not.

“SAA attempted to dissuade the unions from embarking on industrial action by providing firm commitment dates to SAA’s offer of 5.9%. Discussions are continuing to resolve the wage matter at the time of issuing the statement.

“SAA will spare no effort to work jointly with the labour unions to find solutions that accommodate the employee demands, safeguard the business and return operations to normal.”

The Democratic Alliance’s Chief Whip, Natasha Mazzoni accused the airline of “playing into the hands of opportunistic unions as they continue to hold the national carrier to ransom”.

“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.”

She added that efforts by the new SAA management and directors to turn around the fraught state-owned entity (SOE) had 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. It is currently operational solely due to continued state handouts, much like Eskom.”

The party reiterated its call for Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, to place SAA under business rescue and to immediately shutdown SA Express.

“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.”