SAA returns to the skies


FILE - African countries earmarked for flights include Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo with this starting on Monday (27 September). [File photo: Reuters]


The airline resumed flights on the Johannesburg-Cape Town route on Thursday morning.

The return of South African Airlines (SAA) to the skies will benefit consumers as it will bring more competitive pricing to the sector.


This is according to SAA board chairperson John Lamola who was speaking ahead of the airline’s first flight since it was grounded at least 16 months ago.


“Since SAA went into and then out of business rescue, there has been less local capacity and that means tickets have become more expensive. Our return to the skies will mean more competitive pricing and will enable more South Africans to fly.


“Economics aside, there is also the pride factor. Seeing SAA’s tail colours on international tarmacs is not only positive for South Africa but the rest of the continent,” Lamola said.

The airline’s local flights took off on Thursday with at least three trips per day between Johannesburg to Cape Town each way.


African countries earmarked for flights include Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo with this starting on Monday (27 September).

“Bookings are the obvious measure of success and I’m thrilled so far that there is high interest both in South Africa and on the rest of the continent.


“SAA is receiving inquiries from many missions on the continent asking when their cities will be added to our route network. All of this positive affirmation is indicative how people feel about SAA and our return to service,” Lamola said.


The board chairperson vowed that the airline had now turned a corner from its previous struggles and would better serve its consumers.


“We have reduced our staff complement considerably and now have a lean efficient fleet of aircraft numbering eight, from a previous thirty-two. Many parts of SAA’s repurposing have been difficult and painful at times, but our overriding dictum has been a sense of responsibility to the taxpayer and a promise that we will not go back to where we once were.”


The South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) says it is cautiously optimistic about South African Airways return to the skies after being grounded last year.


The airline resumed flights on the Johannesburg-Cape Town route on Thursday morning.

Other destinations of the airline include Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lusaka in Zambia, Maputo in Mozambique and Accra in Ghana.


The Association spokesperson, Zazi Nsibanyoni-Mugambi says the return of SAA is a bitter-sweet moment for employees as there are still many unresolved issues.


“The conditions of employment for our members are shocking right now, there are literally been shoved down their throat. For instance, there is a 35% wage cut for the lowest-paid workers, whereas management are receiving increases on some instances with their packages which is extremely unfair. You find the leave has been reduced for cabin crew, the sick leave which is vital for people that fly between various climates has been reduced so there are many issues.”


The national carrier was grounded for more than a year after being placed under voluntary business rescue.


It also had to retrench thousands of workers because of financial challenges in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Return to the skies is an important symbol of hope for the country: SAA CFO

South African Airways(SAA) interim Chief Financial Officer, Fikile Mhlontlo, has described the airline’s resumption of flights as an important symbol of hope for the country.

Mhlontlo is upbeat about the bouncing back of SAA.


“Today we have reset and we are now coming back to join the rest of the industry flying again. It’s a great day and with future prospects with the direction the company is going, those things may not be necessarily being such a hindrance going into the future. It’s a proud, proud moment. It is a show of hope. It shows that you can be on the ground but you can be up there in the sky again,” says Mhlontlo.


Source: Business Tch / eNCA / SABC

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