Operators selling trips in southern Africa have pledged to stand by South African Airways (SAA) amid the carrier’s ongoing funding crisis.
SAA cancelled nearly 40 domestic and international flights earlier this week as it awaits for a £106 million bailout from the government.
The airline has struggled to turn a profit in recent years due to issues ranging from its geographical location, older, less fuel-efficient aircraft, and declining regional demand.
However, operators with a strong presence in South Africa are continuing to book with the airline.
“We are booking with SAA and carrying on booking as we would normally," Ash Sofat, chief executive of safari specialist Somak Holidays, told TTG.
“We recognise they have had some difficulties but from what I know of that, I see no problem going forward.”
African Pride director David Holland told TTG a number of its clients could be affected if the airline fails, but declined to disclose the figure.
“We are watching the situation closely because it is in the hands of all the people down there to dictate what will happen,” he said.
“We are keen for them to sort it out and hand on heart, we are looking at other airlines at the moment wherever we can until we know the situation is resolved, but that is an exercise many African tour operators are doing.”
Holland stressed if the airline collapsed, African Pride would protect its customers and maintain bookings.
South Africa is also an “important” destination in Premier Holidays’ long-haul portfolio.
Debbie Goffin, director of sales and marketing at Premier, said: “SAA has been a great partner to us over the years and has supported us in both joint marketing and fam trips for agents.
“Our sympathies are with all of our friends and colleagues at SAA, and we hope that the government will support them to continue.
“In the meantime, we will be managing any customers who are concerned about their bookings.”
She added Premier had “strong relationships” with other carriers so future bookings would not be affected.
Arno Delport, sales and marketing manager at Acacia Africa, said it has not been affected by the negotiations and that it was “too early” to predict what impact the situation may have.
In light of the disruption, the Foreign Office has updated its advice for travel to South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania, urging travellers to check their plans with their tour operator before travelling.
Philip Saunders, chief commercial officer for SAA, said: “We’re looking after our customers with our usual passion and commitment at the same time as taking responsible, prudent action to build a viable and strong SAA with a sustainable future.
"We’re also working closely with the South African Government to restructure our airline, thereby creating more international tourism, with an airline that will become a beacon of innovation and efficiency."
He thanked those supporting the airline in the UK.