Picture: File photo/ ANA

Johannesburg - National carrier South African Airways said on Wednesday its services to Blantyre in Malawi had been affected by the closure of the main runway at the Chileka international airport from April 24 to July 24, with flights scheduled for this Wednesday and Saturday cancelled.

In a statement, SAA however said it had put contingency plans in place for smaller aircraft operated by SA Express to operate this route, with the exception of the Wednesday and Saturday flights. 

"The aircraft size which SAA operates to Blantyre does not fit in the required categories/classes of the secondary runway which will remain operational," it said. "Accordingly, SAA’s operations to Blantyre have been cancelled, for Wednesday, 24 April 2019 and Saturday, 27 April 2019."

It said it would use SA Express’s Q400 turbo prop aircraft to continue with SAA’s schedule operations.

SAA, which operates a three weekly service between Johannesburg and Blantyre on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, said airport authorities had notified it that the main runway would be closed for maintenance and rehabilitation.

It said it would deploy a single cabin aircraft during the rehabilitation, and would therefore compensate all passengers who had purchased tickets to travel in the premium cabin. 

Other customers would be re-accommodated to Lilongwe, as these operations were unaffected. They would have an option of reconnecting from Lilongwe for onward travel by air or ground transport.

- African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa