UPDATE: SAA strike ends, full schedule to resume by Sunday

2019-11-17 18:14 -
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South African Airways has confirmed the strike with labour unions has ended, after a wage agreement was reached -  bringing to a close the eight-day disruptions to domestic and regional travel.   

SAA says it will restore its full flight schedule in stages over the weekend, continue with its interim schedule until Saturday 23 November, including the addition of Mauritius. 

From Sunday 24 November, the airline would resume its full schedule,"with the exception of normal ad-hoc cancellations related to demand".

SAA warned there would be selected cancellations, principally on the domestic network and on a small number of regional flights, the airline expects to be able to provide service to all customers. 

Any customers requiring re-accommodation on a rescheduled service or on another airline will be contacted accordingly or assisted at their departure airport.

Contact details for affected passengers who need to make alternative arrangements:

Customers seeking a refund or wishing to re-book their travel on a future SAA service have until 30 November 2019 to finalise their arrangements.

  • SAA website for updates, SAA has advised it will not be able to assist with disruptions at the airport due to the strike.
  • Mango - 086 100 1234.
  • Airlink Customer Care on 011 451 7300 or the Airlink Agent Helpline on 011 451 7350.
  • British Airways - 011 921 0222 
  • kulula -  086 158 5852   

“We are delighted to be able to announce a resumption in normal schedules. On behalf of SAA, I would like to express our deep regret at the inconvenience caused to our loyal customers during this industrial dispute. We will continue to assist those passengers, that have still not been able to travel, to reach their intended destination as soon as possible,” said Philip Saunders, SAA’s Chief Commercial Officer.

“At the same time, I would like to express our commitment to return to the skies with renewed passion and energy to serve all our customers. We also thank our airline partners, Mango, Airlink and SA Express, for assisting us during this difficult period,” Saunders added.Customers holding a confirmed itinerary may proceed to their departure airport as usual.  


UPDATE: Mango will not join the strike 

The South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) has issued low-cost carrier Mango with a strike notice but the airline says its staff "will not participate".

"We’ve been assured by our staff that they are committed to moving Mango forward and will not be participating in the strike.” 

SAA continues to work with its partners, Mango Airlines, Airlink and SA Express to provide alternative solutions to customers on affected routes.

It had re-instated selected regional and domestic routes for Wednesday and Thursday but it had not confirmed any flight cancellations for Friday or the weekend - Traveller24 has reached out to the airline to confirm and is awaiting a response.

Contact details for affected passengers who need to make alternative arrangements:

Customers seeking a refund or wishing to re-book their travel on a future SAA service have until 30 November 2019 to finalise their arrangements.

  • SAA website for updates, SAA has advised it will not be able to assist with disruptions at the airport due to the strike.
  • Mango - 086 100 1234. 
  • Airlink Customer Care on 011 451 7300 or the Airlink Agent Helpline on 011 451 7350.
  • British Airways - 011 921 0222 
  • kulula -  086 158 5852  


UPDATE: SAA cancels services to Hong Kong     

South African Airways (SAA) says it is suspending its four-flights per week service between Johannesburg and Hong Kong from Saturday, 23 November until and including, 14 December 2019. 

The cancellation of the route was not directly attributed to the ongoing industrial action at SAA - now in its 6th day but will "curb significant financial losses incurred on the route", currently made worse by the "ongoing political tensions in Hong Kong". Passengers booked to travel during this time will be contacted and re-accommodated as per the airline's policy. 

The airline confirmed it would be confirming flight schedules affected by the strike later on Thursday. Currently selected flights are operational for local and regional flights, with all other international routes operational. 

“The decision to suspend services to Hong Kong is regrettable, but necessitated by the current downturn in business due to the developing challenges in the region. By suspending these flights, we can concentrate on resuming more regional services at the earliest opportunity and make better use of all our resources,” says Philip Saunders, SAA’s Chief Commercial Officer.

Home-based carrier Cathay Pacific, as well as Air China, Singapore Airlines, All Nippon Airways, United Airlines have also reduced capacity on the route. The impact of these reduced operations is further reinforced by a year-on-year decline of 13% in passenger volumes recorded at Hong Kong International Airport in October 2019.


UPDATE: Selected domestic SAA flights operating for Thursday 

Labour unions have called for a sympathy wide aviation strike as industrial action that started on Friday 15 November enters its 7th day on Thursday - with domestic and regional flights still impacted. International flights however, are operational.  

SAA confirmed the selected flights operating on Thursday are two flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town, one flight to Durban and scheduled flight to Vic Falls.  

The national carrier received a secondary strike notice from Air Chefs on Wednesday - with Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi saying unions were pushing for a secondary strike, as negotiations are at an impasse. See Fin24 for more info.   

While SAA says it is working with partner airlines Mango, the low-cost carrier has confirmed it has also received a notice of intention to strike from South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) - with contingency measures in place to limit the impact.

SA Express' daily operations have not been affected and it is not affected by the South African Airways Technical industrial action. 

"NUMSA as a union has complied with the prescripts of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) by notifying SA Express in writing and giving a seven (7) day notice of proposed secondary strike.  The LRA provides for a secondary strike and it is within the employees’ rights to participate in the secondary strike.  The airline has a robust contingency plan in place to avoid operational disruptions," according to an SA Express spokesperson.

Some of Comair's flights were impacted by rotational delays earlier in the week, however the airline also has contingency plans in place - even though it has not received any notice for the secondary strike as yet. 


UPDATE: Mango issued with strike notice, queries 'clerical error ' 

Mango has confirmed it has received a strike notification from South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA).

A spokesperson for the airline says,"We are reaching out to the union as there was a clerical error on the notification. However, we’ve been assured by our staff that they are committed to moving Mango forward and will not be participating in the strike."

According to the airline, the notification was addressed to Mango CEO Nico Bezuidenhout but was referencing a different entity. 

Labour unions have called for a sympathy wide aviation strike as industrial action at the embattled national carrier is set to enter its 7th day on Thursday - with domestic and regional flights impacted. International flights however, are operational. 

"Comair has not yet received the required 48 hours' notice," Susan Van Der Ryst, Corporate Communications Head told Traveller24. 

"Contingency plans are in place to mitigate any impact the SAAT strike may have on Comair’s fleet availability and flight schedule. We are accommodating affected passengers where possible. We cannot confirm numbers."

SAA received the secondary strike notice from Air Chefs on Wednesday - with Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi saying unions were pushing for a secondary strike, as negotiations are at an impasse. See Fin24 for more info.  

SAA says it continues to work with its partner airlines to accommodate affected passengers.  

Philip Saunders, SAA’s Chief Commercial Officer confirmed on Tuesday, 19 November at an SAA media briefing that on Thursday, 21 November the airline would be operating two return flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town, as well as one return flight between Johannesburg and Durban. 

GDS systems confirm the flights as mentioned are available for booking. 

"SAA Flights to following destinations cancelled for 21 & 22NOV 2019Nairobi, Dar Es Salaam, Maputo, Lilongwe, Mauritius, Abidjan, Entebbe, Livingstone.

"Windhoek, Lusaka – at this stage have some flights operating."


UPDATE: Limited SAA domestic flights to operate between Joburg, Cape Town and Durban on Thursday

Labour Unions are still on strike, but South African Airways says it is working hard to fully reinstate its flights schedule as the failure to reach amicable negotiations enters a fifth day. 

Philip Saunders, SAA’s Chief Commercial Officer confirmed that on Thursday, 21 November the airline would be operating two return flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town, as well as one return flight between Johannesburg and Durban. 

Domestic flights for Wednesday remain grounded. SAA continues to work with its partner airlines Mango, SA Express and SA Airlink to accommodate affected passengers.  

The airline would also be adding Vic Falls to its regional routes, six others which were re-instated on Monday.   

Saunders confirmed the airline was managing the strike incrementally in order to minimize the impact on passengers, as it currently has 5% of its employees are on strike. SAA employs some 5 149 staff, with about 944 jobs at risk as it enters a restructuring process. 

READ: SAA flight cancelled? What to do now       

SAA safety

The SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has confirmed that our operations are safe and fully compliant with international safety standards, SAA Acting CEO, Zuks Ramasia said during the briefing. 

"Safety is our primary responsibility. SAA has never - and will never - compromise safety under any circumstances. The statements made by SACCA and NUMSA are deeply regrettable, untruthful and without foundation. In response, SAA is taking appropriate legal action for these statements to be retracted.

“Our flight deck, cabin crew and technicians are highly qualified. For example, on the international flights operated by SAA on Sunday, each member of our cabin crew team had an average of 16 years’ experience, and each pilot on the flight deck had an average of 20 years’ experience.’

SAA will be meeting with South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) to renegotiate the wage strike, currently at an impasse after unions earlier met with Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan in Pretoria

Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi confirmed the unions were pushing for a secondary strike, should negotiations fail. 

Contact details for affected passengers who need to make alternative arrangements: 

Customers seeking a refund or wishing to re-book their travel on a future SAA service have until 30 November 2019 to finalise their arrangements.

  • SAA website for updates, SAA has advised it will not be able to assist with disruptions at the airport due to the strike. 


UPDATE: Knock-on delays for domestic travel continue, with devastating consequences for SA's economy 

Industrial action against national carrier South African Airways, which began on Friday 15 November is about to enter its 5th day, as labour unions are seeking an industry-wide shutdown.

While unlikely, if it was possible it would impact airport and airspace facilities - meaning no airline would be able to operate, causing a possible national and international crisis, SA Airlink CEO Rodger Foster told Traveller24.

And it seems South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) are determined to test the state's efforts to get SAA on track financially, so it can negotiate a better increase deal for its workers. 

READ: How would an aviation-wide sympathy strike affect SA? Dramatically, according to this study

Foster, commenting to Traveller24, says it would be "difficult at this stage to scope the magnitude of a sympathy strike. Whilst this is a possible scenario, it would be most unfortunate if the current situation conflated to the extent of a total industry shutdown as this would have a devastating impact on the South African economy."

Far more likely would be a sympathy strike from airlines and companies within the SAA stable, including SA Express, South African Airways Technical and Mango - with SAA CEO Zuks Ramasia calling on employees to consider the devastating impact such a strike would have - confirming all staff on duty where fully trained and that SAA pilots are not on strike. 

As SAA's domestic flights remain cancelled, along with certain regional routes, strike action at South African Airways technical has already had knock-on effects for other domestic carriers it services, including kulula and British Airways. 

Airlink confirmed its operations are normal as it does its own maintenance, with added capacity as it tries to accommodate customers whose itineraries have been disrupted by the industrial action.

At the start of the strike on Friday, 15 November Comair confirmed it had contingency plans in place. In comment to Traveller24 today, the aviation company confirmed its kulula and British Airways flight operations were continuing despite the industrial action at South African Airways Technical.

LATEST UPDATE: Certain domestic carriers see flights delays of up to five hours due to SAA strike

“Contingency plans are in place to mitigate any impact the SAAT strike may have on Comair’s fleet availability and flight schedule. We are accommodating affected passengers where possible. We cannot confirm numbers,” says Susan Van Der Ryst, Corporate Communications Head.

“NUMSA has been issued two certificates of non-resolution for disputes pertaining to both Comair's ground and cabin crew. Before embarking on a strike, NUMSA has to conduct a secret ballot of its members, and thereafter give Comair 48 hours' notice. The ballot has not yet taken place and Comair has not yet received notice. Comair has contingency plans in place, should our ground and/or cabin crew opt to exercise their right to strike.”

Traveller24 has contacted domestic carriers service by SAAT to confirm delays as well as contingency plans in place should a sympathy strike go ahead, and is awaiting a response. 

Foster also confirmed a number of Airlink’s customers interline connect on SAA flights, and some itineraries have been disrupted.

He says Airlink is working closely with SAA’s offices around the world, and the travel trade, to ensure that customers are re-accommodated with minimal inconvenience.

"Airlink and SAA coexist symbiotically on certain routes such as Harare and Lusaka, and where possible Airlink has increased its aircraft size to accommodate SAA customers on these routes. Additionally Airlink has placed foreign operators permits on certain routes such as Maputo as a contingency should the strike become prolonged and should SAA require Airlink’s further assistance." 

 

SEE: US flight bookings to Cape Town up by 11% ahead of upcoming New York route


UPDATE: Certain domestic carriers see flights delays of up to five hours due to SAA strike

Domestic travellers are experiencing delays as a result of the ongoing South African Airways (SAA) strike, with delays of between one to five hours confirmed.

All airlines using South African Airways Technical (SAAT) are affected as a result of the wage-negotiation strike which is currently at an impasse - with unions calling for a sympathy-wide strike. 

XL Oceanair Travel Manager, Liz Budge says the issue is compounded by “queues due to clients who do not have an agent to assist with their re-bookings and booked online or their agent has not re-booked them”.  

When a flight is delayed, then rotational delays occur through out the day

“Some flights have seen delays of 1 to 2 hours, while others as much as five hours,” says Budge. 

SAA's domestic operations for Tuesday, 19 November 2019 and Wednesday 20 November 2019, remain cancelled despite the airline re-instating International flights and some regional flights. 

READ: SAA flight cancelled? What to do now     

At the start of the strike on Friday, 15 November Comair confirmed it had contingency plans in place. In comment to Traveller24 today, the aviation company confirmed its kulula and British Airways flight operations were continuing despite the industrial action at SAAT.

“Contingency plans are in place to mitigate any impact the SAAT strike may have on Comair’s fleet availability and flight schedule. We are accommodating affected passengers where possible. We cannot confirm numbers,” says Susan Van Der Ryst, Corporate Communications Head.

“NUMSA has been issued two certificates of non-resolution for disputes pertaining to both Comair's ground and cabin crew. Before embarking on a strike, NUMSA has to conduct a secret ballot of its members, and thereafter give Comair 48 hours' notice. The ballot has not yet taken place and Comair has not yet received notice. Comair has contingency plans in place, should our ground and /or cabin crew opt to exercise their right to strike.”

Traveller24 has contacted all domestic carriers to confirm delays as well as contingency plans should a sympathy strike go ahead. (More to follow)  

READ: 'My last flight with them was R50bn ago' - South Africans react to SAA strike 


UPDATE: SAA re-instates certain regional flights, domestic flights remain cancelled  

Passengers travelling with South African Airways (SAA) regionally will be able to travel as scheduled as the airline says flights to six destinations on the African continent, namely Accra, Lagos, Lusaka, Maputo, Windhoek and Harare, will resume from Tuesday, 19 November 2019.

According to flight booking GDS systems these regional routes remain cancelled, namely Nairobi, Lusaka, Lilongwe, Windhoek, Dar es Salaam, Mauritius, Abidjan, Entebbe, Livingstone and Victoria Falls. 

The strike-hit national carrier has however re-instated international flights, which it says are "now fully operational" after it began operating on Sunday, 17 November.

Domestic operations for Tuesday, 19 November 2019 and Wednesday 20 November 2019, however remain cancelled at this point. Passengers are advised to contact the airline to re-book. SAA has been working with its partner airlines Mango and SA Airlink to re-book all customers travelling on domestic services for Tuesday and Wednesday, with domestic carriers experiencing some delays. 

Traveller24 has contacted the respective carriers to confirm delays as well as contingency plans should a sympathy strike go ahead. (More to follow)

Those travelling on SAA’s regional network that has been re-instated will be re-booked on the re-instated services and contacted accordingly. Customers are requested not to travel to their departure airport unless they are in possession of a re-booked itinerary.

Contact details for affected passengers who need to make alternative arrangements: 

Customers seeking a refund or wishing to re-book their travel on a future SAA service have until 30 November 2019 to finalise their arrangements.

  • SAA website for updates, SAA has advised it will not be able to assist with disruptions at the airport due to the strike. 

READ: SAA flight cancelled? What to do now      

 SAA acknowledged those staff deciding to work despite receiving threats and intimidation from the unions, reiterating safety measure for its operations were in place and that "the airline will never compromise on this core responsibility”, according to Philip Saunders, SAA’s Chief Commercial Officer.

“Once again, we apologise to all our passengers for all the inconvenience caused. We are continuing discussions with labour and remain committed to reach a prompt resolution in the best interests of all parties,” Saunders said. 


UPDATE: SAA warns of impact of secondary strike, as unions allege SAA 'unsafe'

If you're flying with SAA domestically or regionally and have not made alternative re-booking arrangements for Monday, 18 November, best you not head to the airport.

The airline has extended its cancellation of domestic and regional flights to manage the impact of the wage strike that kicked off on Friday, 15 November - as allegations of unsafe measures and a possible secondary strike swirl. 

International flights took off from OR Tambo International Airport on Sunday, to Sau Paulo, New York, London, Frankfurt, Munich and Washington DC via Accra.  The first departures from OR Tambo International Airport to Perth and Hong Kong are expected to operate as scheduled from Monday, 18 November 2019.     

SAA’s departures from its international stations on Monday, 18 November 2019 include: London, New York, Washington DC (via Accra), Munich and Frankfurt to OR Tambo International Airport, are expected to arrive on Tuesday, 19 November 2019. 

Passengers are advised to report to their departure airport as normal when in possession of a confirmed itinerary.

LATEST FROM FIN24: Unions vow to intensify strike, as mediation with SAA fails

'SAA is safe'

Zuks Ramasia, acting Chief Executive Officer of South African Airways hit back at the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) who have alleged the airline is unsafe to fly right now.

According to Ramasia, SAA has the required number of "expertly trained staff" overseeing the airlines current operations and remains compliant to the rules of the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA). 

Ramasia says the airline is considering legal action as a result, should the "untruths" by the unions not be withdrawn. 

"SAA aircraft go through rigorous inspections as prescribed."

South African Airways, and South African Airways Technical (SAAT) have recently been embroiled in safety and compliance issues with the SACAA previously grounding local airlines serviced by SAAT, as a result of a negative audit. The issues however we resolved, before the strike took place. No advisories by the SACAA have reported since the strike.

READ: Comair and SAA grounding: Protocol inadequacies in SA aviation come to light as 5 core concerns in SAAT audit unpacked

Certain corporates have issued notices, advising staff to book with alternative airlines, with the communication referencing the Safety concerns reported on SAAT. 

Multichoice being one such company issuing the following notice, “MultiChoice Travellers are requested to refrain from travelling on SAA, Mango, SA Express both locally and internationally due to recent news reports. If no alternative is available, it is at the travellers’ discretion to travel on these airlines.” 

'Secondary strike could be fatal, Pilots not on strike'

In addition to addressing the allegations of being unsafe, Ramasia states that "SAA Pilots are not on strike, neither are trainee pilots used.   

The unions have called for a secondary strike, with NUMSA urging SATUWU and NTM to join the strike. 

"SAA is concerned about NUMSA’s intention to start consultation with all sector players for a full-on Aviation Strike. The intent of a secondary strike is to cause disruption, bring all airport operations to a halt and create huge damage to the South African economy," says Ramasia. 

The acting CEO also slammed striking workers who are allegedly intimidating employees reporting for duty. "Describing some of our employees as ‘traitors’ and threatening that “we know where you are” will not be tolerated. We will always protect our employees’ right to decide for themselves and serve our customers."

Security personnel at all access gates and parking areas has been increased, assisted by members of SA Police Services (SAPS) to ensure that employees and vehicles are safe, including monitoring of access roads.

SAA’s position in response to union's call for 9% increase

The company has advised that the airline cannot afford to pay any salary increases. However, it has offered the unions a 5.9% salary increase effective in the March 2020 pay month. In addition, the company will pay the first six months back-pay, from 1 April 2019 to 30 September 2019, in March 2020; and the remaining six months back-pay in April 2020, provided that SAA has received funds to do so. 

Ramasia urged the unions to reconsider negotiations, calling the strike fatal as it places SAA's future in jeopardy.

"The intent of a secondary strike is to cause disruption, bring all airport operations to a halt and create huge damage to the South African economy. NUMSA has also called on SATUWU and NTM to join the strike. A secondary strike will affect the competitiveness of the South African economy as a whole.

Passengers carry the brunt as strike continues  

As the negotiations continue, passengers are advised to report to their departure airport as normal when in possession of a confirmed itinerary. Mango and SA Express have been assisting to re-accommodate as many customers as possible travelling on domestic services. 

Depending on availability, customers traveling to regional destinations are being re-accommodated on SA Airlink, a partner airline of SAA, and other airlines where possible.

Customers seeking a refund or wishing to re-book their travel on a future SAA service have until 30 November 2019 to finalise their arrangements - with call centre hours extended to accommodate the high volumes.


UPDATE: SAA re-instates all international flights from OR Tambo for Sunday

South African Airways (SAA) has re-instated International Flights for seven destinations on Sunday, 17 November from OR Tambo but has had to cancel regional and domestic flights for Sunday and Monday, 18 November - extending the weekend cancellations due to striking staff. 

The seven destinations are New York, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, Perth, London, Frankfurt, and Washington. Flights will depart from OR Tambo International Airport. 

The airline is working with Mango Airlines to re-accommodate as many customers as possible travelling on its domestic services.  This will mean changes in timing and aircraft types, with passengers advised to keep in contact with the airline. 

Customers travelling to regional destinations across Africa will be re-accommodated on Airlink, an airline partner - and other airlines where possible.

The airline warns they will not be able to re-accommodate all passengers, only those with re-booked itineraries should travel to the airport. 

Impasse, CCMA mediation

The wage negotiations have reached an impasse, according to the airline. The unions took up an offer for the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to conciliate in the salary negotiations, which took place on Saturday. No outcome has been released as yet. 

“We recognise SAA and its employee’s contribution to our country’s economic growth, specifically in the context of outbound and inbound tourism. It is in the public interest that this dispute be resolved. The union’s willingness to find a resolution is laudable,” says Martin Kemp, SAA Acting General Manager for Human Resources. 

NUMSA AND SACCA have demanded an 8% salary increase. SAA has advised that the airline cannot afford to pay any increases, however, it has offered the unions a 5.9% salary increase when funds are available.

The unions have rejected the offer and embarked on industrial action.“Our efforts are focused on finding solutions that accommodate the employee demands, safeguard the business and return operations to normal. We are exploring all possible avenues,” says Kemp.

Passengers will be assisted as follows:

  • Where possible, passengers will be re-booked onto flights operated by any of SAA’s Star Alliance partners or other airlines to travel to their final destination with minimal disruption.
  • Passengers can be re-booked onto another South African Airways flight for any flight on the same routing until 31 October 2020 at no extra charge and subject to availability in the same booking class.
  • If the customer no longer wishes to travel, the booking can be cancelled and a full refund, including taxes, will be offered;
  • The extension of cancellations is a result of ongoing industrial action by the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA). 

Contact details for affected passengers who need to make alternative arrangements: 

  • SAA website for updates, SAA has advised it will not be able to assist with disruptions at the airport due to the strike. 

READ: SAA flight cancelled? What to do now     


SAA has cancelled more regional and domestic flights and plans to re-instate international flights from Sunday. 

South African Airways (SAA) says it will re-instate International Flights for Sunday from OR Tambo but plans to cancel regional and domestic flights for Sunday and Monday, extending the weekend cancellations  due to striking staff. 

LATEST FROM FIN24: SAA strike: union calls for urgent meeting with Mboweni, Gordhan

The airline is working with Mango Airlines to re-accommodate as many customers as possible travelling on its domestic services.  This will mean changes in timing and aircraft types, with passengers advised to keep in contact with the airline. 

Customers travelling to regional destinations across Africa will be re-accommodated on Airlink, an airline partner - and other airlines where possible.

The airline warns they will not be able to re-accommodate all passengers, only those with re-booked itineraries should travel to the airport. 

SAA is however reinstating all international flights from OR Tambo, with effect from Sunday 17 November 2019 and customers should report to the airport as normal.

Departures from SAA’s international stations, including London, New York, Washington, Munich, Frankfurt and Hong Kong are expected to operate from Monday, 18 November 2019.

The first departure from São Paulo, is expected to operate on Sunday, 17 November 2019. The first departure from Perth, is expected to operate on Tuesday, 19 November 2019. 

The airline is re-booking customers and providing various options to minimise disruptions, with call centre hours extended from 6am to midnight, South African time.

Volumes are high, so only those wanting to re-book are advised to use the call centre in the interim, says Philip Saunders, SAA Chief Commercial Officer. 

The Call Centre numbers are 0861 606 606 or 011 978 1111 or visit www.flysaa.com.Passengers will be assisted as follows:

  • Where possible, passengers will be re-booked onto flights operated by any of SAA’s Star Alliance partners or other airlines to travel to their final destination with minimal disruption.
  • Passengers can be re-booked onto another South African Airways flight for any flight on the same routing until 31 October 2020 at no extra charge and subject to availability in the same booking class.
  • If the customer no longer wishes to travel, the booking can be cancelled and a full refund, including taxes, will be offered;
  • The extension of cancellations is a result of ongoing industrial action by the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA). 

Contact details for affected passengers who need to make alternative arrangements: 

  • SAA website for updates, SAA has advised it will not be able to assist with disruptions at the airport due to the strike. 

READ: SAA flight cancelled? What to do now     


UPDATE: Passengers travelling today and over the weekend are advised to remain in contact with their respective airlines 

Airports run by Airports Company South Africa have activated their business continuity plans and are working with SAA and other airlines to minimise the impact of the strike by airline employees.

LATEST FROM NEWS24: 'I had no idea' - Brazilian passenger on SAA strike after landing at OR Tambo

Indications from around the country on Friday morning are that airports are operating at close to normal levels in terms of scheduled arrivals and departures of non-SAA flights.

Operational disruptions have been kept to a minimum as a result of contingency plans activated earlier in the week and through close collaboration among airports and airlines working to accommodate affected passengers.

Acsa confirmed additional ground, terminal and security staff were on duty at airports from early on Friday morning to provide support to passengers and airlines that are accommodating re-bookings for affected SAA passengers.

Affected airports have designated picketing areas that will be managed by airport security in collaboration with the SAPS and local metro police. 

Mango re-issued a statement on Friday morning saying it would  assist affected passengers and that its operations were in no way affected by the SAA strike.

Mango flights not affected'

Mango, as the low-cost domestic operator of SAA, re-issued a statement on Friday saying its operations were not affected by the SAA strike. 

  

"We will continue to operate and, like many airlines in South Africa, will be working together with SAA to re-accommodate passengers stranded by the strike," says Nico Bezuidenhout, Mango CEO. 

Contingency plans are in place should things become serious, says Bezuidenhout.

Airlink's operations remain unaffected, while kulula also has contingency plans in place should South African Airways Technical embark on the looming strike.  

Passengers travelling today and over the weekend are advised to remain in contact with their respective airlines for updates on flights.

SAA passengers who are unsure of alternative arrangements should contact the airline before travelling to an airport.

READ: SAA flight cancelled? What to do now    


National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the South African Cabin Crew Association have failed to reach an agreement with South African Airways (SAA), thus the strike will go ahead on Friday and flights remain cancelled for Friday and Saturday.  

The strike is expected to commence at 04:00am on Friday morning, with SAA advising passengers not to come to the airport unless they have a re-booked itinerary. The strike is expected to be indefinite, according to the unions.

LATEST FROM FIN24: SAA strike to go ahead, unions say their demands must be met

SAA Spokesperson Tlali Tlali says, "The meeting earlier with the unions did not yield any favourable outcome. We are encouraged by willingness on the part of the unions to continue to meet with us to find a resolution on this issue.

"We are exploring yet another avenue and have approached the CCMA to request a mediation in terms of section 150 of the Labour Relations Act. A senior commissioner has been identified to facilitate the process. The process is voluntary and we now await indication from the unions as to whether they will participate or not."

Passengers will be assisted as follows:

  • If the customer no longer wishes to travel, the booking can be cancelled and a full refund, including taxes, will be offered;
  • Where possible, passengers will be re-booked onto flights operated by any of SAA’s Star Alliance partners to travel to their final destination with minimal disruption; 
  • Passengers can be re-booked onto another South African Airways flight for any flight until 31st October 2020 at no extra charge and subject to availability in the same booking class;
  • All tickets must be reissued on or before 30th November 2019;
  • SAA will not be able to provide any support for special service requests or unaccompanied minors during the industrial action;

“Only flights operated by South African Airways will be affected by the industrial action. All flights operated on partner airlines, including SA Express, Mango, Airlink and all codeshare partners, including flights operated by our Star Alliance partner airlines will not be affected.  

“Assistance will be provided to only passengers holding a South African Airways ticket.  Customers should refer to the travel booker or agent for assistance. Customers who have booked their ticket through an SAA contact centre should contact the call centre for assistance,” says Philip Saunders, SAA Chief Commercial Officer.

The airline will assess the situation on an ongoing basis and customers will be kept informed of all operational developments on a daily basis. It is SAA’s aim to advise customers at least 48 hours prior to departure if their flight is cancelled.  “SAA continues to spare no effort to find solutions that accommodate the employee demands, safeguard the business and return operations to normal,” said Saunders. 


17:00

UPDATE: Travellers brace for strike impact as SAA cancels nearly all its flights for Friday and Saturday.

If you're travelling with South African Airways this Friday and Saturday, you are going to need to make alternative arrangements.

The airline has advised passengers it is cancelling nearly all its domestic, regional and international flights scheduled for Friday, 15 November and Saturday, 16 November 2019. 

SEE: SAA makes new offer to unions as strike nears

SAA issued a statement on Wednesday evening, 13 November confirming only flights operated by South African Airways will be affected.

Mango, as the low-cost domestic operator of SAA, says it will assist affected passengers where they can. Airlink confirmed in a statement on Thursday morning its operations remain unaffected, while kulula has contingency plans in place should South African Airways Technical embark on the looming strike. 

READ: SAA flight cancelled? What to do now   

However it is more than likely outbound international passengers who will carry the brunt of the impact from cancelled flights. 

SAA did however confirm certain flights operating from "selected outstations" on Friday, 15 November 2019 will return to SAA’s base, OR Tambo International Airport, departing Friday. Full list below.

“Unless alternative arrangements are in place, customers are requested not to go to their departure airports during the disruption as SAA will be unable to provide any assistance. Information on the status of our flights will be regularly updated on our website,” says SAA Spokesperson Tlali Tlali.  

Alliance partner flights that will operate as normal: 

  • SA 1000 – 1999
  • SA 2000 – 2999
  • SA 7000 – 7999
  • SA 8000 to 8999

Regional flights, which will operate on Friday morning, will return from

  • Maputo (SA147)
  • Lusaka (SA067)
  • Harare (SA025)
  • Windhoek (SA073
  • Accra (SA210)

International flights, which will operate on Friday evening, will return from

  • Frankfurt (SA261)
  • New York (SA204)
  • Munich (SA265)
  • Hong Kong (SA287)
  • Perth (SA281)
  • London (SA235)  

Contact details for affected passengers who need to make alternative arrangements: 

  • SAA website for updates, SAA has advised it will not be able to assist with disruptions at the airport due to the strike. 

READ: SAA warns there may be 'no recovery' from strike

The cancellations are aimed at minimising flight disruptions for its passengers, says the airline, following an announcement by the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) that their members will embark on industrial action from Friday morning.

The airline is currently under pressure to submit its 2018-2019 annual report and financial statements, with concerns about its viability as it needs to secure a R2bn working capital loan, mounted against cumulative losses of about R28bn over the past 13 years.  

This is in addition to what has been described by the unions as the "mother of all strikes" set for Friday morning, following SAA's announcement on Monday, 11 November that it is embarking on a restructuring process which may affect 944 jobs of some 5 149 employees.

READ: Ferial Haffajee: Why should SAA employees pay for the sins of Dudu Myeni and Jacob Zuma?

Fin24 reports Deon Fredericks, interim chief financial officer (CFO) of SAA  says the strike will endanger the existence of SAA and could destroy every job at the state-owned airline. Currently, labour represents 24% of SAA's total cost. 

Tlali Tlali, SAA spokesperson states that during the negotiations with the unions, "SAA presented a revised offer for employees delivering a 5.9% increase subject to the availability of funds from lenders".

NUMSA and SACCA are demanding an 8% increase. National Transport Movement (NTM) has not stated whether their members will embark on a strike or not. SAA attempted to dissuade the unions from embarking on industrial action by providing firm commitment dates to SAA’s offer of 5.9%.  Discussions are continuing to resolve the wage matter at the time of issuing the statement.    

More to follow


10:51

Comair puts contingency plans in place ahead of SAAT strike

Comair says its operations will continue and contingency plans are in place, ahead of the threatened industrial action from South African Airways Technical (SAAT).

Comair customers can check the latest flight information on the relevant websites (ba.com / kulula.com), and customers with urgent enquiries can call 011 921 0222 for British Airways or 086 158 5852 for kulula.

“We will do everything possible to keep customers informed and to minimise the impact of any SAAT strike action. Serving our customers remains our priority,” says Wrenelle Stander, Comair’s Joint CEO.

"Comair is committed to providing a safe, secure, reliable and quality airline service to its customers. The safety of our customers and crew is our top priority and never compromised."


10:05

Mango to help passengers affected by cancelled SAA flights 

Mango has confirmed it will be working together with SAA to accommodate the passengers affected by cancelled flights due to a looming strike this Friday and Saturday. 

Only SAA's domestic, regional and international flights have been cancelled for the two days, with certain flights operating from "selected outstations" on Friday, 15 November 2019 back to SAA’s base, OR Tambo International Airport -  full list below. 

All flights operated on partner airlines will operate as normal, including SA Express, Mango, SA Airlink and all codeshare partners, including flights operated by their Star Alliance partners.

“Unless alternative arrangements are in place, customers are requested not to go to their departure airports during the disruption as SAA will be unable to provide any assistance. Information on the status of our flights will be regularly updated on our website,” says SAA Spokesperson Tlali Tlali. 

These flights can be identified by their flight numbers and will operate as normal:

  • SA 1000 – 1999
  • SA 2000 – 2999
  • SA 7000 – 7999
  • SA 8000 to 8999

Regional flights, which will operate on Friday morning, will return from

  • Maputo (SA147)
  • Lusaka (SA067)
  • Harare (SA025)
  • Windhoek (SA073
  • Accra (SA210)

International flights, which will operate on Friday evening, will return from

  • Frankfurt (SA261)
  • New York (SA204)
  • Munich (SA265)
  • Hong Kong (SA287)
  • Perth (SA281)
  • London (SA235) 

"Mango Airlines would like to assure passengers that we will continue to operate and, like many airlines in South Africa, will be working together with SAA to re-accommodate passengers stranded by the strike," says Mango spokesperson Sergio dos Santos. 

"We are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to work hard to make sure guests reach their destination. We have contingency plans in place and are ready to activate them should we experience any disruptions to our service during this time.

"All guests should please continue to check with us regarding their flight status whether on our social media or through our call centre - 086 100 1234."


10:00

SA Airlink unaffected by SAA industrial strike

Airlink has issued a statement advising its customers, service providers and other stakeholders that its operations will continue as normal on Friday 15 November and on Saturday 16 November 2019.  

"Our services are not affected by the SAA Industrial Strike."Airlink is privately owned, serving more than 55 routes in southern Africa, operating 60 000 flights annually and provides travellers with the widest choice of flight times when planning itineraries.  With a fleet of 60 aircraft, our punctuality is consistently at 95%."Customers requiring any further assistance or information can contact Airlink Customer Care on 011 451 7300 or the Airlink Agent Helpline on 011 451 7350.


05:00 

UPDATE: SAA cancels 'nearly all flights' to minimise looming strike disruption

Passengers are being advised that South African Airways (SAA) has cancelled nearly all its domestic, regional and international flights scheduled for Friday, 15 November and Saturday, 16 November 2019.  

SAA issued a statement on Wednesday evening, 13 November, saying only flights operated by South African Airways will be affected.

While outbound flights from South Africa have been cancelled, certain flights will operate from selected outstations on Friday 15 November 2019 back to SAA’s base, OR Tambo International Airport.   

Flights operated on partner airlines SA Express, Mango, SA Airlink and all codeshare partners, including flights operated by its Star Alliance partner airlines will operate as normal. 

The cancellations are aimed at minimising flight disruptions for its passengers, says the airline, following an announcement by the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) that their members will embark on industrial action from Friday morning.

The airline is currently under pressure to submit its 2018-2019 annual report and financial statements, with concerns about its viability as it needs to secure a R2bn working capital loan, mounted against cumulative losses of about R28bn over the past 13 years.  

This is in addition to what has been described by the unions as the "mother of all strikes" set for Friday morning, following SAA's announcement on Monday, 11 November that it is embarking on a restructuring process which may affect 944 jobs of some 5 1 49 employees.

Fin24 reports Deon Fredericks, interim chief financial officer (CFO) of SAA  says the strike will endanger the existence of SAA and could destroy every job at the state-owned airline. Currently, labour represents 24% of SAA's total cost. 

Tlali Tlali, SAA spokesperson states that during the negotiations with the unions, "SAA presented a revised offer for employees delivering a 5.9% increase subject to the availability of funds from lenders".

NUMSA and SACCA are demanding an 8% increase. National Transport Movement (NTM) has not stated whether their members will embark on a strike or not. SAA attempted to dissuade the unions from embarking on industrial action by providing firm commitment dates to SAA’s offer of 5.9%.  Discussions are continuing to resolve the wage matter at the time of issuing the statement.   

"SAA will spare no effort to work jointly with the labour unions to find solutions that accommodate the employee demands, safeguard the business and return operations to normal." 

What affected travellers need to know:  

Only flights operated by South African Airways will be affected.

All flights operated on partner airlines, including SA Express, Mango, SA Airlink and all codeshare partners, including flights operated by our Star Alliance partner airlines.

“Unless alternative arrangements are in place, customers are requested not to go to their departure airports during the disruption as SAA will be unable to provide any assistance. Information on the status of our flights will be regularly updated on our website,” says Tlali. 

These flights can be identified by their flight numbers and will operate as normal:

  • SA 1000 – 1999
  • SA 2000 – 2999
  • SA 7000 – 7999 
  • SA 8000 to 8999

Regional flights, which will operate on Friday morning, will return from

  • Maputo (SA147)
  • Lusaka (SA067)
  • Harare (SA025)
  • Windhoek (SA073)
  • and Accra (SA210)

International flights, which will operate on Friday evening, will return from

  • Frankfurt (SA261)
  • New York (SA204)
  • Munich (SA265)
  • Hong Kong (SA287)
  • Perth (SA281)
  • London (SA235)

“We are putting our customers first and regret the inevitable inconvenience that these cancellations may cause our customers. However, by acting proactively SAA can certainly help customers find alternatives,” says Tlali.

"The airline will assess the situation on an ongoing basis and customers will be kept informed of all operational developments on a daily basis."

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