Airlink's first flight to St Helena marred by potential strike action

2017-10-14 11:05 - Gabi Zietsman
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Cape Town - On Saturday SA Airlink is flying its first flight on its new route to St Helena, but a potential strike on Monday could mar its celebrations.

St Helena Government (SHG) and SA Airlink announced the new weekly route between the island and South Africa in August, and tickets went on sale in September. The flight is currently on its way from Johannesburg to its stopover in Windhoek, Namibia, before completing its six hour trip to St Helena.

SEE: #FindYourEscape: Airlink flights to St Helena from SA now on sale

According to AP, larger aircraft can land at the airport but with weight restrictions, meaning fewer passengers. SA Airlink's smaller Embraer E190 is carrying nearly 80 passengers, including "Saints" - the nickname for people from St. Helena - tour operators from South Africa and journalists.

The SA Airlink plane conducted 13 flight trials at the St. Helena airport in August, according to a statement by island authorities. Some charter and medical evacuation flights have used the airport in the past year.

Airlink operates 155 domestic and regional flights daily to 37 destinations in nine African countries.

Possible strike action

However, Airlink released a statement on Friday to alert passengers of a potential strike by their cabin crew on Monday 16 October, due to a breakdown in pay increase negotiations with SATAWU.

“Airlink is committed to open engagement and negotiations in good faith with staff and organised labour representatives, including SATAWU, with which we hope to reach agreement and avert any disruption to our services and inconvenience to our customers,” explained Airlink CEO & Managing Director, Rodger Foster.

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“We are putting in place a contingency plan to mitigate the impact of any work-stoppage for our customers and will continue to provide updates to our customers, service providers and industry partners,” he added. 

The airline advises customers to ensure their contact details on their bookings are correct so that they may be contacted if their flights are delayed.

They also advised to consult their travel helpline (+27 451 7350) on Saturday 14 October between 08:00 and 17:00 to check for refunds and rebookings. 

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