Flight Centre SA to stop selling SAA tickets until 'certainty' returns to the market

Travel group Flight Centre South Africa has made the decision to stop selling South African Airways tickets, citing "ongoing concerns" about the airline's financial stability and the unwillingness of their travel insurance providers to continue covering SAA. 

According to its website, Flight Centre South Africa, a subsidiary of the Flight Centre Travel Group, is the country's largest travel specialist with 170 businesses across leisure, wholesale and corporate brands.

The decision is included in a letter letter, signed by Andrew Stark, managing director for the Flight Centre Travel Group in the Middle East and Africa, and dated November 28, 2019. 

"Over the last month there have been several publications in the media regarding ongoing concerns in respect of the financial stability of South African Airways," it states. 

"On 27 November 2019, we were informed that our preferred Travel Insurance Provider [...] and their underwriters, are no longer willing to cover SAA under their Travel Supplier Insolvency benefit, due to doubts concerning the long-term viability of the airline.

"We have been advised further that a number of other global insurers have taken a similar approach."

It adds: "In light of the above developments and the continuing concerns regarding SAA, Flight Centre Travel Group South Africa has made a decision to no longer sell SAA, until such time as we have obtained certainty in the market."

Customers would still have the option to book with SAA if they wished, Flight Centre said, but "we would strongly advise that alternative options are utilised until certainty regarding the airline’s long-term sustainability is obtained". 

Contacted by Fin24 on Thursday evening, Stark did not comment in detail, but confirmed the authenticity of the letter. 

Solidarity's chief operating officer, Dirk Hermann, told Fin24 on Thursday afternoon that the move was a significant and radical step, citing "extreme uncertainty" at the airline. 

Solidarity wants SAA placed in business rescue. 

Fin24 contacted a SAA spokesperson via phone and WhatsApp message on Thursday evening. At the time of publication, a response had not yet been received. 

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