South African Airways (SAA) has announced a number of network changes being implemented as part of its restructuring plan to “conserve cash and create a viable platform for a successful future”.
Business rescue practitioners (BRPs) Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana have been working with the airline, stakeholders, the government and creditors to develop a restructuring programme that will culminate in a Business Rescue Plan to be published later this month and presented to creditors for approval. The carrier secured rescue funding in January.
Part of that process, according to the BRPs, is to make “targeted changes” to SAA’s route network to help it save cash and become more operationally efficient.
As part of the restructuring, SAA will continue to operate international flights from Johannesburg to Frankfurt, London Heathrow, New York, Perth and Washington via Accra.
Regional services to be retained include from Johannesburg to Blantyre, Dar es Salaam, Harare, Kinshasa, Lagos, Lilongwe, Lusaka, Maputo, Mauritius, Nairobi, Victoria Falls, Livingston and Windhoek.
However, as of 29 February, SAA will no longer operate service to Abidjan via Accra, Entebbe, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Luanda, Munich, Ndola, or Sao Paulo.
On the domestic route, the airline will continue to serve Cape Town on a reduced basis, but all other destinations including Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth will cease to be operated by SAA as of 29 February.
Domestic services operated by its sister carrier Mango will not be affected by the changes and all customers booked on those flights being cancelled will be re-accommodated.
Passengers booked on all other cancelled domestic and international routes will receive a full refund.
At this point, SAA said it does not intend to make any further significant network changes.
The BRPs said “every effort is being taken” to limit job cuts, adding: “It is our intention to restructure the business in a manner that we can retain as many jobs as possible. This will help provide a platform to a viable and sustainable future. However, a reduction in the number of employees will unfortunately be necessary.”
Matuson and Dongwana added: “The initiatives we are taking now will strengthen SAA’s business. We believe that this should provide reassurance to our loyal customers that SAA is moving in the right direction. We are focused on our mandate to restore SAA’s commercial health and create an airline that South Africans will be proud of.”
The changes do not impact the flight schedule until 29 February, though some services had already been temporarily cancelled throughout the month to conserve cash. Passengers are advised to check the status of their flight for any changes.