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SAA, the state-owned airline that is facing a strike that may threaten its very existence, says it has cancelled “nearly all” its flights for Friday and Saturday.

In an e-mail statement issued late on Wednesday night, SAA said its key objective is to “minimise the impact of disruptions” for customers. The action was made necessary after the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said they would embark on industrial action “notwithstanding SAA’s repeated overtures” for them to “acknowledge the severity of the current situation facing the airline”.

SAA nonexecutive director Martin Kingston said in parliament on Wednesday the airline could not withstand a strike, which could cost it R50m a day. The crisis-hit airline got a lifeline from the government in October, with the state announcing it would settle R9.2bn in loans that SAA could not roll over because commercial banks won’t lend to it. 

“We are putting our customers first and regret the inevitable inconvenience that these cancellations may cause our customers. However, by acting proactively, SAA can certainly help customers find alternatives,” SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said in the statement.

Flights operated by partner airlines such as SA Express, Mango and SA Airlink won’t be affected by the cancellations, SAA said.


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