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It’s all part of the plan, says SAA after cancelling flights

The airline announced on Thursday that it would cancel 48 local and international flights in February in order to cut costs and save money.

FILE: SAA is currently under business rescue with practitioners trying everything possible to keep the airline operational. Picture: Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG – South African Airways (SAA) said it would accommodate its customers on its subsidiary airlines to minimise the impact of the latest flight cancellations.

The airline announced on Thursday that it would cancel 48 local and international flights in February in order to cut costs and save money.

Last week, the struggling state airline also cancelled flights along its low demand routes.

SAA is currently under business rescue with practitioners trying everything possible to keep the airline operational.

Spokesperson Tlali Tlali said the scrapping of unprofitable flights was part of that plan.

“This is not uncommon in the industry where the demand is low.”

He said the focus was now on accommodating affected customers on alternative flights operated by its alliance partners.

“SAA will accommodate the transfer for its customers. It will be operated by either SAA or its Star Alliance partners to minimise the inconvenience to its customers.”

Affected routes include Johannesburg and Durban, Cape Town and East London.

Flights between Johannesburg and Livingstone, Washington DC, Nairobi, Kinshasa, Dar Es Salaam, Windhoek and Accra have also been cancelled.

PENSIONS AND LIFELINES

Earlier this week, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) called for workers’ pension funds to be used to bail out Eskom, and other state-owned entities, because it believes this would yield investments in the long run.

The labour federation said on Wednesday it made the proposal at the African National Congress (ANC) lekgotla and it was endorsed by the alliance partners.

The trade union federation’s Sizwe Pamla said workers’ pension funds must bail out SOEs only if there was a commitment that companies won’t be prioritised and that jobs won’t be lost.

“We created a plan and two federations are on board. They’ve all agreed that this is workable.”

At the same time, the Development Bank of Southern Africa has pledged R3.5 billion to SAA, a move that's been widely criticised.

Some political parties say the money given to SAA may be redirected from important development projects meant for millions of South Africans.

But political economist Matlala Setlhalogile said government was desperate.

“This entity has been trying to improve its financial health for over a decade. It was always going to be a tough one for National Treasury.”

Corporate lawyer Vaughn Harrison doubts SAA will be able to repay the loan.

“This money has already been given to a failing entity that I think owes over R20 billion.”

Additional reporting by Bonga Dlulane.

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