Repatriation and cargo flights will continue in May, says SAA
Johannesburg - National carrier South African Airways, which is struggling to survive and was placed under business rescue last December, said on Friday it would continue to operate repatriation and cargo flights in May and beyond, amid the Covid-19 pandemic which has largely grounded air travel.
The business rescue practitioners at the airline have warned that operations would grind to a halt on May 8 after the government indicated it could no longer provide financial backing for the airline. However, public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan said earlier this week efforts were underway to ensure this did not happen.
"SAA has no plans to cease its operations on the 8th of May," the airline said in a statement on Friday.
"The airline will honour all existing commitments to provide air transportation services to its customers and any other requests that it receives."
It said it had received and was considering several requests for repatriation flights to operate to North, West and East Africa, the United Kingdom, the Middle East, South and North America, and the Far East during the course of this month.
Many foreign nations are stranded in South Africa after it imposed a lockdown from March 27, closing all its borders in a bid to contain the spread of Covid-19.
"We are in ongoing discussions with the departments of Public Enterprises .. and that of International Relations and Cooperation ... regarding other destinations where South African citizens may be stranded," SAA interim executive chairperson Thandeka Mgoduso said.
"Further, we are responding proactively in those instances where there is a need for essential humanitarian cargo for our country and for the neighbouring states to be uplifted."
SAA said it had, since April 3, transported more than 9,100 passengers to six continents and more than 870 tons of freight, both export and import consignments, which included essential humanitarian cargo.
"As long as such requests are received, SAA will endeavour to fulfill them," it added.
African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa