KZN Premier calls for urgent meeting with SAA as it grounds flights to Durban
Johannesburg - KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala has called for an urgent meeting SAA’s top management following an announcement earlier on Thursday that the national carrier would be halting some of its domestic routes.
SAA’s business rescue practitioners said on Thursday that it would cease its domestic routes for Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth, with effect from March 1.
BRP Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana said that in line with SAA’s commitment to take urgent action to conserve cash and create a viable platform for a successful future, key measures need to be implemented "now".
The measures included targeted changes to the route network, deployment of more fuel-efficient aircraft, optimisation of organisational structures and renegotiation of key contracts with suppliers.
Zikalala would be writing to the national government to facilitate the meeting as the provincial government was concerned about the economic impact this would have on the KZN economy, and ultimately, job security.
KZN Finance MEC Ravi Pillay and Economic Development MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube would represent the provincial government in the mooted high-level meeting with the SAA’s top management.
“While we understand SAA is facing financial difficulties and is in business rescue, which implies that it needs to streamline some of its operations, we feel they are making cuts in the wrong places.
“Durban's King Shaka International Airport has repeatedly been named South Africa's fastest growing airport, for example," Zikalala bemoaned.
"The decision to terminate this vital route - without any consultation with the KZN provincial government, amounts to economic sabotage of our province by our national carrier. We are working round the clock to put KZN on the regional economic map and we need SAA to be on the same page," said Zikalala.
IOL reported earlier on Thursday that the business rescue practitioners were working on initiatives to ‘strengthen SAA’.
“The initiatives we are taking now will strengthen SAA’s business. We believe that this should provide reassurance to our loyal customers that SAA is moving in the right direction. We are focused on our mandate to restore SAA’s commercial health and create an airline that South Africans will be proud of," said the business rescue practitioners.
They said SAA would continue to operate all international services between Johannesburg and Frankfurt, London Heathrow, New York, Perth and Washington via Accra.
Regional services to be retained included those from Johannesburg to Blantyre, Dar es Salaam, Harare, Kinshasa, Lagos, Lilongwe, Lusaka, Maputo, Mauritius, Nairobi, Victoria Falls and Windhoek.
International and regional SAA routes to be closed effective March 1 would be Johannesburg to Abidjan via Accra, Entebbe, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Livingston, Luanda, Munich, Ndola, and Sao Paulo.
SAA would continue to serve Cape Town "on a reduced basis".
"All other domestic destinations, including Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth, will cease to be operated by SAA on February 29, 2020. Domestic routes operated by Mango will not be affected by the changes," said the BRPs.
"All customers booked on any cancelled international and regional routes will receive a full refund. Customers booked on cancelled domestic flights will be re-accommodated on services operated by Mango."IOL