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SAA strike will further endanger battling airline, says CFO

Unionised staff plan to down tools on Friday and on Saturday in protest against SAA's restructuring plans.

South African Airways planes. Picture: Facebook.com

JOHANNESBURG - South African Airways (SAA) on Wednesday said a planned strike by unions would further endanger the future of the airline.

Unionised staff plan to down tools on Friday and on Saturday in protest against SAA's restructuring plans.

These plans could lead to the national carrier cutting a fifth of its workforce.

Interim SAA chief financial officer Deon Fredericks said a strike would have a catastrophic impact on the airline if it went ahead.

He said passengers affected by the grounding of flights would be compensated.

“We will provide the refunds, our call centres are available for passengers to contact to make alternative arrangements and we ask our customers to call their agents and they can go to our website as well.”

In anticipation of the strike, SAA has decided to cancel all domestic and international flights for Friday and Saturday.

The airline has, however, clarified that partner airlines, including SA Express, Mango and SA Airlink would not be affected by the cancellations.

SAA said that the strike would hurt the already cash-strapped airline with estimated losses of more than R50 million per day.

Spokesperson Tlali Tlali: "We do not want to underestimate the impact this particular decision will have on the airline. We operate approximately 104 flights a day and when you look at the revenue that we raise, it is approximately R52 million per day. The strike will have a serious impact financially and operationally on us."

Tlali added that a late-night meeting to avert a strike was not successful.

"We decided that under the circumstances, the best thing to do was to cancel flights and to give our customers minimum reasonable notice in order for them to explore alternative travel arrangements."

Additional reporting by Mia Lindeque.

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