SAA. Picture: BUSINESS DAY
SAA. Picture: BUSINESS DAY

South African Airways (SAA) is cutting back the number of its local flights and reducing trips to major African countries.

The troubled state-owned airline announced its new adjusted schedule‚ which will be effective from October 29‚ on Wednesday and said that it was part of the company’s turnaround plan.

According to the schedule‚ daily flights from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth have been slashed in half to only two a day‚ while domestic flights to East London from Johannesburg have been reduced from three to two each day.

Flights to Angola’s capital Luanda and Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo were also trimmed‚ while routes to the cities of Brazzaville‚ Pointe-Noire and Libreville — with connections onward to Cotonou and Douala — are under review.

In August, SAA announced its intention to make changes to its network as part of a newly developed five-year corporate plan to bring financial sustainability to the company.

SAA owes nearly R7bn in debt and was recently ordered to pay back R1.9bn to Citibank by September 30‚ just two months after receiving a state bailout of R2.3bn to pay back money owed to the Standard Chartered bank.

“There is every urgency to aggressively implement this turnaround plan in a manner that shows results in improved efficiencies and ensure schedule integrity for all our customers‚” said SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali.

“We are therefore monitoring route performance and have made some capacity adjustments to align our schedule and frequency for sustainable and profitable outcomes.

“Demand in Central Africa has remained at levels similar to last year due to slow economic growth in the region. Our intention therefore is to maintain our presence in these markets‚ and we have initiated discussions with our partners to decide on the best option to serve these markets.”

Tlali said the changes would enable SAA to revise its schedules and frequencies as and when needed in order to meet the ever-changing demand patterns across its network.

Last week SAA announced the appointment of its new CEO‚ Vuyani Jarana‚ who takes up his position at the start of November on a five-year contract.

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