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Johannesburg – State-owned airline South African Airways says it has successfully halted a potential strike by cabin crew.

The South African Cabin Crew Association, representing about 80 percent of SAA’s cabin crew, went on strike last week over international meal allowances.

The strike, which was halted last Wednesday by an interim order, caused about 30 flights to be cancelled as crew demanded an increase in the daily international meal allowance from $131 to $170.

Flights cannot legally take off without crew. Last week, the union said it was open to negotiation about the mount.

SAA says, in a statement issued late on Wednesday, that the order was granted after the labour union appealed to the court against the interim order granted in favour of the airline.

The airline, which has been repeatedly bailed out, approached the Labour Court and argued successfully to have SACCA and its members interdicted from embarking on industrial action and declaring the industrial action an unprotected strike.

“Whilst we appreciate that the appeal by SACCA has been overturned and that an interim order has been made final, we do not see this as a matter of winners and losers,” said SAA spokesperson, Tlali Tlali.

“For us the key objective remains focusing on those things we must immediately pay attention to, so that the company remains in business and its employees looked after. Those things include exploring avenues that will lead to a resolution of disputed issues between the airline and the affected employees.

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“Our cabin crew members are key to the successful and safe operation of this airline, and as customer facing ambassadors their work satisfaction and morale remain high priority. In addition, we must ensure business continuity through stable operations and provide our customers with a sense of travel certainty,” added Tlali.

SACCA was not immediately available earlier on Wednesday.

SAA says it is inviting SACCA back to the negotiating table as soon as possible.

The beleaguered airline adds its financial sustainability remains of paramount importance to the board and its executive of SAA. “The programme to ensure that the airline’s financial situation is turned around is in full steam to ensure that SAA returns to profitability once again.”