Troubled South African Airways has cancelled nearly 40 domestic and international flights this week as it awaits a financial lifeline.
The carrier has detailed the cancellations as it waits for South Africa’s government to pledge a £106 million bailout to keep it operating.
SAA’s Heathrow-Johannesburg service is still operating, but its Munich service has been cancelled up to and including Friday, with passengers accommodated on Heathrow and Frankfurt services.
Some frequencies between Johannesburg and Cape Town and Johannesburg-Durban have also been cancelled, with passengers transferred to sister budget airline Mango.
SAA said: “These decisions are in line with SAA’s usual policy of reviewing flights and consolidating services with low demand. Furthermore, during the current process of Business Rescue, these cancellations represent a responsible strategy to conserve cash and optimise the airline’s position ahead of any further capital investment.”
It added that cancellations on the Cape Town route were due to these services being used to train pilots on new wide-body Airbus A350s that would then operate long-haul.
“The introduction of these larger aircraft has resulted in temporary surplus capacity on the route,” SAA said.
It warned: “SAA will be reviewing further possible flight schedule amendments over the coming days. Any operational changes will be communicated to our travel trade partners and customers at the earliest opportunity and passengers will be re-accommodated on other airlines wherever possible.”
SAA’s problems stem from its geographical location at the southern tip of Africa plus an inefficient fuel-thirsty fleet and poor regional demand.
In light of the disruption, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated its advice for travel to South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. “They [SAA] will be reviewing further possible flight schedule amendments in the coming days. Check with your airline or tour operator before travelling.”