Wednesday, 22 January 2020

South African axes flights as financial woes deepen

The troubled South African Airways has been cancelling a large number of flights this week as it fights for survival.  According to Reuters, the airline has axed more than 20 domestic flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town and Durban this week as well as the scheduled operation to Munich in Germany.

SAA said it was “consolidating flights to match capacity and demand - These cancellations represent a responsible strategy to conserve cash,” and in a statement, it confirmed it would consider further schedule changes over the coming days as its financial troubles mount to what many see as inevitable - complete collapse. The airline promised to re-accommodate affected passengers on other flights.

The airline is running out of money, it had expected to receive some of the $137 million emergency funding from the government that was agreed on last month when the carrier went into bankruptcy protection, however, no money has yet been received.  Some Africa based aviation analysts believe that political opposition to the bailout funding will mount and the carrier will be forced to fold completely.

The following domestic flights operated by SAA have been cancelled:
Johannesburg (JNB) – Cape Town (CPT)
SA303                  Depart 0530      Arrive 0735       Dates: 20, 21 & 24 January
SA307                  Depart 0700      Arrive 0905       Dates: 21 January

Cape Town (CPT) – Johannesburg (JNB)
SA316                  Depart 0820      Arrive 1015       Dates: 20, 21 & 24 January
SA322                  Depart 0950      Arrive 1145       Dates: 21 January

Johannesburg (JNB) – Durban (DUR)
SA527                  Depart 0630      Arrive 0735       Dates: 20, 21, 22 & 23 January
SA543                  Depart 0955      Arrive 1100       Dates: 20, 21, 22 & 23 January
SA571                  Depart 1655      Arrive 1800       Dates: 20 & 21 January

Durban (DUR) – Johannesburg (JNB)
SA534                  Depart 0805      Arrive 0910       Dates: 20, 21, 22 & 23 January
SA550                  Depart 1130      Arrive 1235       Dates: 20, 21, 22 & 23 January
SA578                  Depart 1840      Arrive 1945       Dates: 20 & 21 January
The following flights have been cancelled:
Johannesburg (JNB) – Munich (MUC)
SA264                  Depart 2115      Arrive 0700       Dates: 20, 21, 22, 23 & 24 January
Munich (MUC) – Johannesburg (JNB)
SA265                  Depart 2030      Arrive 0820       Dates: 21, 22, 23, 24 & 25 January

A350 starts operations

Yet despite the crunch on funds and flights being cancelled the carrier still managed to start the normal scheduled operations of its new Airbus A350-900 on a service to New York’s John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport. 

“This inaugural flight was the first that we plan to introduce on our international routes in the near future.  We are excited that our passengers will enjoy the A350s superior features such as a quieter cabin and relaxing in-flight experience including the all-new In-flight Entertainment (IFE), extra-legroom seats in Economy Class and lie-flat beds in Business Class,” said Zuks Ramasia, SAA’s Acting CEO.

“All the A350-900s are equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. Since entering service in 2015, the Trent XWB engines have flown more than five million hours, and are now regarded as the world’s most efficient large aero-engines. The introduction of the A350s will contribute to our operational efficiencies and cost reduction, and forms part of the ongoing fleet renewal programme.

“For example, through the A350s, we will lower our operational costs, and save on our fuel consumption by 25% and also lower our maintenance costs by 40% over a five-year period,” said Ramasia. 

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