South African Airlines (SAA) said on Thursday it would offer unions a revised wage increase in a bid to avert a strike that has forced the airline to cancel domestic and international flights scheduled for Friday. File picture: Mike Hutchings/Reuters
JOHANNESBURG -  South African Airlines (SAA) said on Thursday it would offer unions a revised wage increase in a bid to avert a strike that has forced the airline to cancel domestic and international flights scheduled for Friday.

“We have a meeting scheduled for today at 2 o’clock and we are hopeful we will be able to resolve the issue ... It will include all the unions ... and if the meeting yields positive results we will then activate some of contingency plans that will allow us to reinstate flights,” said SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali in a live interview on news channel eNCA.

SAA has cancelled “nearly all” flights scheduled for Friday because of a strike over wage increases planned by a majority of employees, television news channel eNCA said.

Unions representing about 3,000 of its 5,000-strong workforce said on Wednesday that cabin crew and other workers at SAA would strike over the airline’s refusal of salary hikes and a plan to cut more than 900 jobs.

According to the report, only flights directly operated by SAA would be affected. Flights by subsidiaries Mango, SA Express and SA Air Link, as well as those of private operators, would not be affected.

An SAA spokesperson did not immediately responded to telephone calls and emailed questions from Reuters seeking details about the cancellations and how long they would last.

Unions say the strike will begin at 4 a.m. (0200 GMT) on Friday. They are calling on SAA’s check-in, ticket sales, head office, technical staff and ground staff to take part.

The state-owned airline flies around 6.8 million passengers annually to six continents with dedicated routes to New York, London and Hong Kong among its eight international offerings.

But it has struggled in recent years, failing to turn a profit since 2011 while relying on state bailouts to fund a growing financing gap.

The airline is also without a permanent chief executive and has yet to file annual results for the two most recent financial years because of concerns about its viability as a business.

REUTERS