South African Airways to expand fleet and relaunch international routes

South African Airways (SAA) has announced plans to lease six new Airbus aircraft, including a wide-body plane, to expand its fleet, relaunch international routes, and increase seat capacity for regional and domestic destinations, offering new business opportunities for UK-based travellers.

South African Airways has been given the green light to expand its fleet with the approval of a plan to lease six new aircraft by the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Public Enterprises.

The expansion is aimed at paving the way for the national carrier to relaunch international routes and increase seat capacity for its regional and domestic destinations.

Interim CEO, Professor John Lamola, expressed his excitement about the development, stating that the aircraft will be delivered before the end of this calendar year and will include a wide-body aircraft as well as five narrow-body aircraft, all of them Airbus equipment.

He said,

We are excited, as SAA, to lay the groundwork for the relaunch of our first international route since coming out of business rescue and since the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. We will announce the new route in the coming few weeks, and we will open commercial marketing and sales for it

The terms and conditions attached to the deals for the new aircraft are along the same competitive, transparent, and cost-effective lines that have characterised the ‘new’ SAA since it emerged from Business Rescue in September 2021, Lamola added.

The four aircraft that we are ordering will all be deployed by September 2023. This is a significant boost for the domestic and regional markets and underscores our commitment to expanding our route network and increasing our frequency in the African market. It will also ensure that the equilibrium between the supply of seats and the flow of traffic will benefit our passengers.

The move is set to benefit UK-based business travellers who will have greater access to African markets, including South Africa.

Commenting on the development, Professor John Lamola said

This expansion represents a significant boost for the African market and underscores our commitment to expanding our route network and increasing our frequency. With this new fleet, we are confident that we will offer our customers a world-class flying experience, with the highest levels of safety and comfort. We are excited to be able to relaunch our first international route since the pandemic, and we look forward to welcoming business travellers from the UK to explore the many business opportunities that Africa has to offer.

The airline is also currently inviting proposals for four A320 narrow-body aircraft, with the other two, an A330 and A320, having already been secured from the lessor community on the same terms as the ones issued in the RFP.

South African Airways announces plans to close regional, international routes from 29 February

SAA has announced a tranche of urgent measures to conserve cashflow, including the axing of several regional and international routes from the end of February 2020.

SAA will close the following regional and international services from Johannesburg to Abidjan via Accra, Entebbe, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Luanda, Munich, Ndola, and Sao Paulo. But will continue to operate all international services between Johannesburg and Frankfurt, London Heathrow, New York, Perth and Washington via Accra.

On the domestic route network, SAA will continue to serve Cape Town on a reduced basis. But all other domestic destinations, including Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth, will cease to be operated by SAA on 29 February 2020.

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

The flight schedule for the rest of February 2020 remains unchanged and the airline states that it “does not intend to make any further significant network changes”.

“SAA continues operations as normal”

MONDAY, 20 JANUARY 2020: Following media reports that South African Airways will cease operations, the airline has issued a media release.

The media release states the following:

South African Airways (SAA) wishes to assure its customers and stakeholders that flights to all its destinations continue as normal.
The airline is aware of media reports suggesting that it will cease operations. SAA is always committed to transparently communicate with all stakeholders, including customers, about any material or significant operational changes that may have an impact on flight schedules.
Where there may be flight schedule amendments, such operational changes will be managed and communicated in accordance with the industry norms and practices.

SAA released a statement to the media on Monday, 20 January

Global Travel Management continues to support clients with bookings on SAA or wishing to travel on any of the airlines’ routes.

We will update our website if the information in this story changes.

South Africa: Workers of South African Airways threaten to strike this weekend, talks continue




South African Airways (SAA) said late on Tuesday afternoon that it has been served with a notice of intention to start industrial action by a labour union. The industrial action is a consequence of a wage increase disagreement. SAA’s maintenance subsidiary, SAA Technical (SAAT), received a notice of the intention to embark on industrial action at the weekend from one labour union following the tabling of a wage increase proposal by SAAT.

Parties have held several other meetings since the notice was served and are expected to meet again on Wednesday morning, according to SAA. SAA said that once it received the notification, it began to review and update its contingency measures to ensure business continuity and to minimize the impact of strike action on its operations.

The airline will issue a follow-up communication on Wednesday morning after the meeting with the unions advising whether the strike is in fact taking place or the extent to which the strike has affected its operations if at all.

Update Travel Alert/South Africa/Strike Action

Pretoria — Strike action by the National Transport Movement (NTM) has not impacted operations at South African Airways (SAA), the airline said on Friday.
“There has been no impact whatsoever on SAA’s operations as a result of the strike. We emphasise that no flights have been cancelled or delayed as a result of the industrial action,” said SAA spokesperson Tlali.
Previously the NTM had served a notice to the airline for strike action last Friday.
In December, SAA met with NTM at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to conclude the verification process that would allow the union to be recognised by the airline.
However, the CCMA confirmed that the union has 1,111 members and needed to have 1220 to meet 30% of 4065 employees who are part of the bargaining unit. This therefore confirmed that NTM failed to meet the 30% threshold. This was the reason the NTM remains unrecognised at SAA.
Last week, the airline said it was committed to business-continuity and has a contingency plan to avoid any unnecessary inconvenience to customers.