South Africa’s SAA to Resume Some Regional Flights, Cancel Domestic

JOHANNESBURG – South African Airways (SAA) said on Monday it would resume flights to six African destinations but cancel some domestic flights in the next two days, as not all unions had joined a strike over wages currently in its fourth day.

south african airways saa
Passengers board a South African Airways plane at the Port Elizabeth International Airport in the Eastern Cape province, South Africa, September 30, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

State-owned SAA has cancelled hundreds of flights since the strike began on Friday, saying the stoppage is costing 50 million rand ($3.36 million) per day and jeopardising talks with lenders.

The strike has cast doubt on the very survival of the airline, which hasn’t turned a profit since 2011 and is reliant on state bailouts.

“SAA is pleased to announce its intention to resume flights to six destinations on the African continent, namely Accra, Lagos, Lusaka, Maputo, Windhoek and Harare, with effect from Tuesday,” it said in a statement.


The airline said it would re-book passengers on regional routes that remained affected. Domestic passengers would face more cancellations on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, it said, but would continue to be transferred to sister airlines Mango and SA Airlink.

SAA said international flights were operating on schedule. (There’s actually a special offer on right now until 19 November for anyone flying from Heathrow to SA on SAA – book here.)

SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali said negotiations on wages, job cuts and other labour issues were ongoing, as did Zazi Nsibanyoni-Aniyam, president of the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) union, which together with the National Union of Metal Workers South Africa (Numsa), called the strike on Friday.

“We’re still in talks with SAA management right now. We’ll see what happens. Those negotiations … are about in-sourcing,” Nsibanyoni-Aniyam said, adding a court case to try to block staff layoffs was still in process.

On Sunday, Numsa and SACCA threatened an industry-wide secondary strike involving other unions, private airlines and related businesses. Neither was available to comment on the plans to extend the strike.

But fellow union Satawu, which represents the rest of employees at the state airline and has so far opted against industrial action in the same wage negotiations, said it had not been approached to join the strike and was unlikely to do so.

“If we were to go on strike at this point it would not be legal,” said Satawu spokeswoman Zanele Sabela, whose union along with the Aviation Union of Southern Africa (Ausa), represent about 40% of SAA staff.

She added that Satawu and Ausa had rejected the 5.9% wage offer, but would not join Numsa in the strike until Friday.

(Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Tim Cocks/Mark Potter/Jane Merriman)