Update | SAA to suspend regional flights as well

Source: SAA Museum Society Archives
Source: SAA Museum Society Archives

Due to a knock-on effect of having announced the cancellation of all its international flights earlier on Friday, South African Airways (SAA) has now decided to suspend its regional flights as well.

Earlier on Friday, SAA announced that it is suspending all international flights with immediate effect until May 31, 2020, to support the government travel ban aimed at stopping the transmission of the Coronavirus (Covid-19).

It, however, turned out that, as a direct consequence of this suspension, there was an immediate drastic reduction of demand for the African regional flights.

"SAA is a network carrier, which means that a significant part of the regional bookings demand is fed by the passengers that travel to or from the international destinations. Therefore, the suspension of the international flights has resulted in the airline not being able to operate its normal network," the state-owned airline announced.

This resulted in operation of regional flights not being commercially viable anymore.

Flights to the following destinations have been suspended as of 20 March 2020 until 31 May 2020: Accra (Ghana), Lusaka (Zambia), Harare (Zimbabwe), Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), Windhoek (Namibia), Lagos (Nigeria), Entebbe (Uganda).

Mauritius will operate until Saturday, 21 March 2020.  

This decision means that SAA will only continue to render services on its domestic route between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

SAA operates in three markets that form part of countries listed in the travel ban as high-risk areas, namely the United States (Washington DC and New York, JFK), the United Kingdom (London, Heathrow) and Germany (Frankfurt and Munich). It also operates flights to Australia (Perth) and Brazil (São Paulo) which have not been declared high-risk, all of which are now cancelled. 

"In support of efforts by government to deal with this pandemic, and in the best interests of our crew, passengers and the public, we have decided to suspend all international flights until 31 May 2020. It is all our responsibility, not just government, to curb further transmission of the virus.

"In addition, the increasing risks to our crew of contracting the virus including the possibility of being trapped in foreign destinations as a consequence of increasing travel bans cannot be ignored," said SAA Acting CEO, Zuks Ramasia.   

"We also recognise the fluidity in the conditions we operate in and the need to responds to these changes with speed, to this end we commit to keep all our stakeholders abreast of any changes on an ongoing basis."

Customers were advised to visit the airline's website at www.flysaa.com for details or to contact their travel agent for further information.

- Compiled by Marelise van der Merwe and Carin Smith

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