Picture: THE TIMES
Picture: THE TIMES

SAA has suspended all international flights until the end of May as part of the measures to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The ailing state-owned airline, which is in business rescue, said in a statement on Friday that it will suspend all international operations until May 31 2020.  

This means SAA will now render services only on its regional and domestic routes.

SAA said the pandemic and attendant travel restrictions resulted in a substantial decline in demand for air travel, and that it has caused many airlines to ground their aircraft, release personnel and cancel flights. 

Following the declaration of the state of disaster after the outbreak in SA, the government announced a travel ban and issued regulations, which introduced certain measures aimed at combating the spread of the virus. It included that the disembarkation of foreign nationals from high-risk countries was suspended on airports on arrival.

In terms of the regulations, it is permissible only for SA citizens returning, as well as the return of permanent residents.

SAA operates in three markets that cover countries listed in the travel ban as high-risk areas — the US, the UK and Germany — as well as additional flights to countries that have not been declared high risk, such as Australia and Brazil. 

All of those are now cancelled, SAA said. 

Acting CEO Zuks Ramasia said the decision to suspend the fights was to support the government’s efforts to deal with the pandemic, as well as in the best interest of crew, passengers and the public. 

“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,” Ramasia said. 

She said stakeholders will be kept abreast amid the fluidity of the conditions they operate under. 


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