Global travel firm Flight Centre announced on Friday that it has decided to lift its suspension on selling SAA tickets.

In November, Flight Centre, which is one of SA’s largest travel companies with a total transaction value of more than R6.5bn and 121 retail outlets, stopped selling SAA tickets after the cash-strapped airline cancelled a number of domestic and international flights due to crippling, week-long industrial action, said to have cost it about R50m a day.

The cancellations came after members of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), and the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca), downed tools in support of their demands for higher wages.

The airline has since been put into business rescue in an effort to turn it into a sustainable business.

Andrew Stark, Flight Centre MD for Middle East and Africa, said on Friday that the company has “reviewed its position ... and has decided to lift its stop-sell on SAA”.

“As of February 14 2019, the group’s wholly owned brands — namely Flight Centre Travel Group, FCM Travel Solutions, Corporate Traveller, Flight Centre Business Travel, Cruiseabout, and Flight Centre Associates — will sell SAA tickets to its customers, in accordance with its standard terms and conditions.”

In November, Flight Centre informed its customers that its insurance provider, Travel Insurance Consultants (TIC), a division of Santam, would no longer offer the travel insolvency benefit cover for SAA. This cover protects travellers from the insolvency of a travel provider, such as an airline.

SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali said of the development: “This milestone represents a significant step forward for SAA, the global travel agency community and customers alike.”

This means that both TIC and the Bryte Insurance Company (BIC) now offer these insurance services across the travel trade, and provide protection for customers choosing to fly with SAA.

TIC said this development is based on its confidence that the decisions taken during the business rescue process are in the best interests of stabilising SAA.

“From Friday February 14, TIC will provide travel insolvency cover on all policies sold on SAA tickets,” the airline said.

Deon Fredericks, acting CFO of SAA, said, “This is an important day for SAA. Customers can now purchase tickets with renewed confidence in the knowledge that they are protected on every step of their journey through either TIC or BIC.” 


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