South African Airways’ (SAA’s) catering arm plans to lay off 118 workers, according to the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), a move that comes as the struggling airline implements a turnaround strategy to restore profitability.

Numsa said it had received notice of the layoffs from the catering arm, called Air Chefs, and said it would oppose the planned job cuts.

"Air Chefs intends to retrench 118 workers out of a workforce of about 1,200 people," the union said in a statement late on Sunday.

"Numsa demands that any discussion regarding retrenchments should take place within the SAA group, which is the mother company. Our members demand that any restructuring take place at a group level and not be decentralised," it added.

Numsa said it was engaging with SAA CEO Vuyani Jarana on the planned job cuts and consultations were expected to take place on Friday.

An SAA spokesperson had no immediate comment.

SAA mapped out a turnaround strategy in March to make the struggling airline more competitive and cost-efficient after reporting a hefty annual loss.

SAA, which has not generated a profit since 2011, survives on state guarantees and is regularly cited by credit-ratings agencies as a drain on the government purse.