SAA cuts out Port Elizabeth route

Port Elizabeth’s airport. Image: Riaan Marais

Ailing state carrier SAA has cancelled more routes with the airline no longer flying into or out of Port Elizabeth.

In a statement published on the company’s website yesterday, the business rescue practitioners said the airline would cease to operate domestic destinations which included Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth from February 29.

SAA — which is under business rescue, with practitioners trying to keep it operational — operates about 15 flights into and out of the city every day.

Domestic routes operated by Mango will not be affected by the changes.

“All customers booked on any cancelled international and regional routes will receive a full refund.

“Customers booked on cancelled domestic flights will be reaccommodated on services operated by Mango,” the statement reads.

“In line with SAA’s commitment to take urgent action to conserve cash, and create a viable platform for a successful future, key measures need to be implemented now.

“These measures include targeted changes to the route network, deployment of more fuel-efficient aircraft, optimisation of organisational structures and renegotiation of key contracts with suppliers.

“All other domestic destinations, including Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth, will cease to be operated by SAA on February 29.”

Other routes cancelled include regional and international services from Johannesburg to Abidjan via Accra, Entebbe, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Livingston, Luanda, Munich, Ndola, and Sao Paulo from February 29.

Regional services to be retained include from Johannesburg to Blantyre, Dar es Salaam, Harare, Kinshasa, Lagos, Lilongwe, Lusaka, Maputo, Mauritius, Nairobi, Victoria Falls and Windhoek.

SAA cancels low demand flights in cost-cutting measures

The statement said that SAA had no plans to make further significant changes to its network.

“Passengers and travel agents can therefore feel confident about booking future travel with SAA.”

In January, the airline cut 48 local and international flights to cut costs.

Flights into and out of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, East London, Windhoek and Nairobi were among those affected.

On possible job losses, business rescue practitioner  Les Matuson said they intended to restructure to ensure as many jobs as possible were retained.

“This will help provide a platform to a viable and sustainable future.

“However, a reduction in the number of employees will unfortunately be necessary.”

He said they would engage both organised and non-organised labour to find a solution for a sustainable airline going forward.

“The decisions and actions announced today are aimed at improving SAA’s balance sheet, creating a platform for a strong and sustainable airline and ensuring that the company is more attractive for potential strategic equity partners.”

Meanwhile, Mango scrapped a new route from the Port Elizabeth International Airport to Lanseria in Johannesburg a mere six months after the first flight landed in the city amid much fanfare.

On July 11 2019, the first flight on the Port Elizabeth-Lanseria route landed in the city.

The route was shut down on January 15.

By Michael Kimberley – HeraldLIVE

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