UPDATE: SAA operations normal despite technical strike

Cape Town - South African Airways’ (SAA) operations have been unaffected by Friday’s, 4 August, march by members of NUMSA at its technical facilities, with no flight delays.

Earlier on Friday, passengers were advised to remain in contact with the airline as a strike by its technical crew was set to get underway.

The airline implemented its contingency plan following receipt of notification that South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) and NUMSA advised that both unions intend to march and hand over memorandums to SAA and SAAT.

SAA will keep customers informed on an ongoing basis should any further activities affect operations.

SEE: ALERT: Passengers warned of SAA strike at OR Tambo International

"It remains unclear why SACCA and NUMSA have not resorted to using the provisions of the SAA Bargaining Forum Agreement (SAABF) which provides for the appropriate platform to address demands by any party to the agreement," says SAA in a statement.

To date "SAA is unaware of SACCA/ NUMSA’s demands being tabled at the appropriate structure in terms of the SAABF. The airline is considering its options in an effort to ensure business continuity and cannot rule out an option to interdict the unions should the need to do so arise" the statement adds.

The airline says that it remains "committed and open to continued engagement with union leadership in an effort to speedily resolve any matters of dispute".

SEE: ALERT: Travellers urged to arrive early, as increased security spells worldwide airport delays

On Tuesday, 1 August Traveller24 reported that travellers plan well in advance for check-ins, across all major airports following key security alerts resulting in added security checks at airport that could see lengthy queues and delays, including SA.

The Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) urged travellers to arrive early at the airport for their travels, no matter where they are in the world.

In Australia, the federal government announced tougher security processes at all major Australian airports after police said they had foiled an alleged terror plot in Sydney on Saturday.

SEE: Security alert at Sydney Airport as plot to 'bring down plane' uncovered

In Europe, the trade body Airlines for Europe (A4E) said thousands of flights were delayed recently because of the imposition of stricter border controls as well as understaffing at the airports.

“During this busy summer travel season, airline travellers have become victims of the disproportionate impact that the implementation of new EU Regulation is having on the flow of traffic at European airports. The regulation relates to the reinforcement of checks against the relevant database of external borders,” said A4E’s MD Thomas Reynaert.

Also in South Africa, increased security measures could lead to delays, especially on flights to the US. The US Homeland Security has announced all airlines operating to the US will need to comply with enhanced security measures.

Tlali Tlali, spokesperson for SAA warns, “Travellers to the USA can expect to undergo a secondary security inspection prior to boarding their flights. We encourage passengers to arrive early at the boarding gates to avoid inconvenience associated with last minute rush which could also cause delays.”  

ASATA travel agents are saying the best way for travellers to prepare for the delays is by arriving at the airport on time.

'Long delays at EU airports' 

Monica Horn, Product Manager for the Harvey World Travel Franchise Support Team, says that fortunately very few customers have been affected by the long delays at EU Airports. She says, “We always encourage our customers to be at international airports at least 3 hours in advance of their flights and where possible, we do their online check-in for them to mitigate risk of missing their flight.”

Business Manager for Sure Maritime Travel Rachael Penaluna agrees and says,“We have not had any passengers affected yet, but have warned all our passengers to check in at least 3 hours before any flight. We also check all passengers in for their flights to allow more time.”

'Check-in online 24hrs prior to departure' 

“We always recommend that our travellers try check-in online 24hrs prior to departure or with the checkmytrip app, as well as arrive 3 hours before international flight departures, due to tight security measures at airports,” says Chantal Kliche, Retail Manager for Thompsons Travel.

Even domestic travellers need to make sure to arrive at the airport early, warns Kliche. She explains local airline kulula.com has announced that from 31 July, the airline will close check-in 45 minutes prior to departure as opposed to the previous 30 minutes prior to departure. Customers are also advised to make use of the online check-in or the self-service kiosks at the airport and check in their bags at the drop off counters.

What to read next on Traveller24

Fly Modern Ark: SA’s new airline set to operate local routes later this year

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#LoveSA: First impressions of an Mzansi traveller

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