UPDATE: Flight Centre lifts stop-sell on SAA flights

2020-01-26 19:15
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South African Airways (SAA) has undergone a host of business rescue measures, including cutting a number of its domestic routes, and has since received a positive nod from Flight Centre's insurers. 

The travel group announced on Friday, 14 February it is lifting the stop-sell on SAA flights with immediate effect as its preferred Travel Insurance Provider, Travel Insurance Consultants (TIC) has reinstated cover for travel with the national carrier. 

Fight Centre put the stop sell in place on SAA tickets in November last year when TIC pulled its cover for Supplier Insolvency, due to the unstable financial position SAA found itself in, yet again needing state funded guarantees to continue operating. 

"As of 14 February 2019, the group’s wholly owned brands – namely Flight Centre Travel Group, FCM Travel Solutions, Corporate Traveller, Flight Centre Business Travel, Cruiseabout, and Flight Centre Associates – will sell SAA tickets to its customers, in accordance with its standard terms and conditions."


The 18 routes SAA will continue to operate, as it cancels most of its domestic flights 

South African Airways has cancelled the following list of routes, effective from the end of February. Domestic routes operated by Mango will, however, not be affected by the changes.

All customers booked on any cancelled international and regional routes will receive a full refund, says SAA. Customers booked on cancelled domestic flights will be re-accommodated on services operated by Mango.

Domestic operators to contact to make urgent alternative flight arrangements:

SAA's current flight schedule changes

SAA International routes cancelled

  • Hong Kong - ends 29 February 2020 
  • Sao Paulo - ends 29 February 2020 
  • Guangzhou - ends 29 February 2020 
  • Munich - ends 29 February 2020

SAA International routes retained

  • New York
  • Washington via Accra
  • Perth
  • Frankfurt
  • London

SAA Regional routes cancelled

  • Luanda - ends 29 February 2020 
  • Entebbe - ends 29 February 2020 
  • Abidjan via Accra - ends 29 February 2020 
  • Ndola - ends 29 February 2020 

SAA Regional routes retained

  • Victoria Falls
  • Livingston
  • Lagos
  • Maputo
  • Harare
  • Lusaka
  • Lilongwe
  • Windhoek
  • Kinshasa
  • Nairobi
  • Dar es Salaam
  • Mauritius

SAA Domestic routes cancelled

  • Durban - ends 29 February 2020
  • Port Elizabeth - ends 29 February 2020
  • East London - ends 29 February 2020

SAA Domestic routes retained

  • Cape Town


UPDATE: SAA cancels extensive list of domestic and regional flights for February

South African Airways (SAA) might have received its R3.5bn much-needed funding to continue operating during the business rescue process - but the cost-saving measure of flight consolidation continues. 

The airline announced in a statement on Wednesday, 30 January that it would be cancelling flights for February, due to low demand. 

Business Rescue Practioners have been and will continue to review all third party contracts and "cancel any onerous contracts or renegotiate others into commercially accepted terms" - including the decision taken to "cancel and consolidate selected scheduled flights where there is low demand based on current forward bookings for the month of February".

SAA said it wanted to disclose the affected flights information as early as possible.  

See the extensive list of cancelled and domestic flights for February:

Johannesburg (JNB) – Durban (DUR)

  • SA575                  Depart 1900      Arrive 2005       Dates: 01, 05, 06, 08, 13 February
  • SA575                  Depart 1830      Arrive 1935       Dates: 07 February
  • SA527                  Depart 0630      Arrive 0735       Dates: 21 February

Durban (DUR) – Johannesburg (JNB)

  • SA528                  Depart 0630      Arrive 0735       Dates: 02 , 06 , 07 , 09 , 14 , 21 February
  • SA580                  Depart 2005      Arrive 2110       Dates: 07  February

Johannesburg (JNB) – Cape Town (CPT)

  • SA353                  Depart 1600      Arrive 1805       Dates: 03 , 04 , 11 ,  17 , 24 February
  • SA313                  Depart 0850      Arrive 1055       Dates: 04 , 11 , 25 February
  • SA303                  Depart 0530      Arrive 0735       Dates: 05 , 13 , 17 , 26 February

Cape Town (CPT) – Johannesburg (JNB)

  • SA366                  Depart 1850      Arrive 2045       Dates: 03 , 04 , 11 , 17 , 24 February
  • SA326                  Depart 1135      Arrive 1330       Dates: 04 , 11 , 25 February
  • SA316                  Depart 0820      Arrive 1015       Dates: 05 , 13 , 17 , 26 February

Johannesburg (JNB) – East London (ELS)

  • SA477                  Depart 1855      Arrive 2020       Dates: 05 , 06 , 12 , 19 , 26 February

 East London (ELS) – Johannesburg (JNB)  

  • SA472                  Depart 0630      Arrive 0755       Dates: 06 , 07 , 13 , 20 , 27 February

 Johannesburg (JNB) – Livingstone (LVI)

  • SA048                  Depart 1040      Arrive 1220       Dates: 01 , 05 , 08 , 10 , 11 , 15 , 18 , 19 , 26 ,  27  February

 Livingstone (LVI) – Johannesburg (JNB)

  • SA049                  Depart 1300      Arrive 1440       Dates: 01 , 05 , 08 , 10 , 11 , 15 , 18 , 19 , 26 ,  27  February

Johannesburg (JNB) – Kinshasa (FIH)

  • SA050                  Depart 1010      Arrive 1255       Dates: 03 February

Kinshasa (FIH) – Johannesburg (JNB)

  • SA051                  Depart 1345      Arrive 1830       Dates: 03 February

Johannesburg (JNB) – Dar Es Salaam (DAR)

  • SA188                  Depart 1335      Arrive 1755       Dates: 03 , 10 , 17 February

Dar Es Salaam (DAR) – Johannesburg (JNB)

  • SA189                  Depart 0600      Arrive 0830       Dates: 04 , 11 , 18 February

Johannesburg (JNB) – Nairobi (NBO)

  • SA180                  Depart 1530      Arrive 2030       Dates: 01 , 08 , 22 February

Nairobi (NBO) - Johannesburg (JNB)

  • SA181                  Depart 0835      Arrive 1140       Dates: 02 , 09 , 23 February

Johannesburg (JNB) – Windhoek (WDH)

  • SA074                  Depart 0950      Arrive 1145       Dates: 06 February
  • SA076                  Depart 1430      Arrive 1625       Dates:  05 , 12 , 19 , 26 February

Windhoek (WDH) – Johannesburg (JNB)

  • SA075                  Depart 1235      Arrive 1420       Dates: 06 February
  • SA077                  Depart 1715      Arrive 1900       Dates:  05 , 12 , 19 , 26 February

Johannesburg (JNB) – Accra (ACC) – Washington (IAD)

  • SA209                    Depart 1805      Arrive 2205/Depart 2320            Arrive 0600        Dates: 16 , 18 February

Washington (IAD) – Accra (ACC) – Johannesburg (JNB)

  • SA210                    Depart 1740      Arrive 0835/Depart 0935            Arrive 1725        Dates: 17 ,  19 

Domestic operators to contact to make urgent alternative flight arrangements:

Philip Saunders, Chief Commercial Officer, noted, “We are committed to accommodating all affected customers on alternative flights, operated by the airline and its Star Alliance partners. Any inconvenience or delays are intended to be minimal.”

Travel agents, alliance partners and relevant stakeholders have been notified of these operational changes. SAA appreciates their on-going support in re-accommodating our passengers.


UPDATE: State remains 'committed to saving SAA' 

SAA ticket holders can breathe a sigh of relief as our embattled national carrier will continue flying, thanks to the Development Bank of Southern Africa commitment to R3.5bn.

Business rescue practitioners have confirmed to Fin24 business rescue practitioners Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana said stakeholders can continue flying SAA now that required funding has been secured. 

READ: You can keep flying SAA thanks to R3.5bn in funding - business rescue practitioners

"Stakeholders of the airline should now have comfort that the rescue process is on a significantly sounder footing, and that passengers and travel agencies and airline partners may continue to book air travel on SAA with confidence," they said.   

“Passengers, travel agencies and airline partners may continue to book air travel on SAA with confidence,” said Louise Brugman, spokesperson for the two practitioners – Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana – who were appointed last month.

“The restructuring of SAA will provide an opportunity to develop a sustainable, competitive and efficient airline with a strategic equity partner remaining the objective of government through this exercise and will result in the preservation of jobs wherever possible,” said Brugman.


UPDATE: Weekend flights continue as normal

After a number of South African Airways (SAA) flights were consolidated last week, weekend flights operated as normal, says the airline.

No indication of cancellations or changes to its flight schedule have been given for the week ahead.  

"We will provide updates to the market and to our customers should there be any schedule changes," SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali told Traveller24 on Sunday, 26 January.

As our embattled national carrier still seeks a strategic equity partner, it had to consolidated its domestic and international flights schedule due to low demand, as the process of business rescue looks to conserve funds. 

SAA announced on Friday 25 January that it was able to pay its staff in full, despite concerns of the R2bn guarantee not being raised by Treasury.

The airline's Business Rescue plan deadline is at the end of February, with the industry watching and waiting to see what the full extent of the restructuring, if any, will be.

Opinions are strong on the matter, with CNN's Richard Quest weighing in on the issue at Davos World Economic Forum, saying" if SA airlines want to become profitable, it needs a drastic restructure", blaming politicians for the mess the national carrier finds itself in. 

EXPLAINER: How SAA landed in such a mess – and what will happen next


SAA cancellations remain in place until the weekend - Here's what affected SAA ticket holders need to know

As our embattled national carrier still seeks a strategic equity partner, South African Airways (SAA) has had to consolidated its domestic and international flights schedule due to low demand, as the process of business rescue looks to conserve funds.

So while these flight routes have not been cancelled outright, flights with too few bums on seats are being re-accommodated. 

SEE: Is SAA's new A350 plane on its New York route too little, too late?

SAA has confirmed the following domestic and international flights have been cancelled between the airline’s main hub Oliver Tambo International Airport Johannesburg (JNB) and Cape Town (CPT), as well as between Johannesburg (JNB) and Durban’s King Shaka (DUR) airports.   

Mango has confirmed it is re-accommodating affected passengers on certain routes operated by both airlines to minimise disruption.  

READ: SAA vows to re-accommodate passengers as it cancels flights to save cash   

SAA Domestic flights cancelled:

  • Johannesburg (JNB) – Cape Town (CPT)

SA303 Depart 0530 Arrive 0735 Dates: 20, 21 & 24 January

SA307 Depart 0700 Arrive 0905 Dates: 21 January

  • Cape Town (CPT) – Johannesburg (JNB)

SA316 Depart 0820 Arrive 1015 Dates: 20, 21 & 24 January

SA322 Depart 0950 Arrive 1145 Dates: 21 January

  • Johannesburg (JNB) – Durban (DUR)

SA527 Depart 0630 Arrive 0735 Dates: 20, 21,22 & 23 January

SA543 Depart 0955 Arrive 1100 Dates: 20, 21,22 & 23 January

SA571 Depart 1655 Arrive 1800 Dates: 20 & 21 January

  • Durban (DUR) – Johannesburg (JNB)

SA534 Depart 0805 Arrive 0910 Dates: 20, 21,22 & 23 January

SA550 Depart 1130 Arrive 1235 Dates: 20,21, 22 & 23 January

SA578 Depart 1840 Arrive 1945 Dates: 20 & 21 January

SAA International flights cancelled:

  • Johannesburg (JNB) – Munich (MUC)

SA264 Depart 2115 Arrive 0700 Dates: 20, 21,22,23 & 24 January

  • Munich (MUC) – Johannesburg (JNB)

SA265 Depart 2030 Arrive 0820 Dates: 20, 21,22,23 & 24 January

SAA says it will be reviewing further possible flight schedule amendments over the coming days.

Affected passengers seeking a refund are being advised to contact the airline or their travel agent to make alternative arrangements. 

Bryte

News24 Journalist Jenna Etheridge, who was at Cape Town International on Tuesday morning, reports that "no obvious disruptions for SAA were immediately apparent".  

The onus is on SAA to accommodate passengers affected by these recently announced flight cancellations due to low demand. However, if passengers elect to cancel any future, operating SAA flights - it should be noted that they won't automatically receive a refund, according to industry expert Natalia Rosa. 

Added to this specific cancellation fees will apply. The usual credit card insurance and reversal of purchase, for services or goods not delivered should however apply in the instance of flight cancellation. 

Bryte, said to be one of the few insurers still offering surety for SAA flights, confirmed to Traveller24 it is "aware of the developments with SAA."Our travel insurance policyholders can be assured that all legitimate travel claims relating to SAA or its services will be honoured.”  

SEE: SAA Business Rescue | What to do if your flight has been cancelled  

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

Domestic operators to contact to make urgent alternative flight arrangements:

*More to follow


UPDATE: 19 SAA Domestic and International Flights cancelled

Travellers are being advised that as many as 19 SAA flights have been removed from the Airline Global Distribution Systems, as Treasury struggles to raise the necessary funds to keep SAA afloat.   

Traveller24 has received confirmation via Flight Centre about the flight cancellations.

More details to follow.

This follows a tweet by the Online Travel Agent, advising their customers that "a number of South African Airline's (SAA) domestic and international flights have been cancelled".

SAA has not yet confirmed any flight cancellations, with the last communication to the public being operations are "continuing as normal" on Monday, 20 January.  

The airline has confirmed it will be issuing a statement shortly. 


When SAA was placed into business rescue on 5 December 2019, Treasury pledged to match a R2bn loan provided by banks - however it is struggling to raise these funds. Business Rescue Practitioners (BRP) Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana are expected to publish their business rescue plan by the end of February 2020.

These are the key developments that have taken place since then:

  • I am an SAA ticket holder, what should I do?

SAA confirmed on Monday 20, January that flights scheduled for all destinations are "continuing as normal". SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali says the airline will communicate "any significant operational changes that may have an impact on flight schedules, should they come into effect".

"Where there may be flight schedule amendments, such operational changes will be managed and communicated in accordance with the industry norms and practices," says Tlali.  

But what would happen if liquidation takes place? 

The airline would be obliged to move passengers to alternative airlines, or alternatively passengers can apply for a refund. Passengers wanting to err on the side of caution by cancelling your ticket you would be subject to a fee, depending on where you are departing from (with the added cost of rebooking applicable).

The refund and cancellation conditions according to SAA's website are as follows:

- Administration Fees for cancellations for flight bookings departing from South Africa An Administration Fee of R285 will be charged per passenger in addition to any applicable cancellation or rebooking fee.

- Administration Fees for cancellations for flight bookings departing from Europe for all flight bookings made via flysaa.com , a Cancellation Administration Fee of EUR 30,-/CHF 50,-/USD 42,-/DKK 225/SEK 280/NOK 235 (depending on the currency used to pay for your ticket) will be charged per passenger in addition to any applicable cancellation or rebooking fee.

- Australia charges administration fee of AUD 50 for refund, rebooking, reissue and it is non - refundable. South America

- An administration fee of USD25 will be charged per passenger in addition to any applicable cancellation fee // In case of dates or itinerary changes, a fee of USD20 will be charged per passenger in addition to any fare difference or/and rebooking fee, according to the applicable fare rule.   

- You can contact their call centre for full assistance on 0861 606 606 or 011 978 1111  - or visit the SAA website here

  • SAA and Airlink to operate separate flight codes

Airlink announced on Thursday, 16 January that it will separate itself from SAA and start operating on its own flight code - '4Z'. This independence will give the airline "more opportunities to develop more routes, frequencies and agreements with other international airlines,"  according to Airlink.

The flight code separation will come into full effect from 11 June 2020. 

  • Passengers urged to use their SAA Voyager miles to avoid BR complications

For now future miles earned via SAA Voyager will continue. The full extent of how the program will be managed as business rescue continues remains uncertain.   

The airline is engaging with SAA Voyager’s more than 65 partners since entering business rescue - but "all current miles remain valid for redemption". Analysts speculate the business rescue plan "could see SAA modify, suspend or cancel the Voyager programme" - but the advice is to cash them in soonest to avoid complications further down the line. 

 

Treasury is trying to convince banks to supply SAA with more loans, "guaranteed with proceeds from asset sales".  

The airline is selling off some of its aircraft but this is said to have nothing to do with the voluntary business rescue process.  The airline states it has "put some of its aircraft up for sale to accommodate its new Airbus A350-900s recently added to its fleet".

While its intentions have yet to be published, prime slots at airports such London’s Heathrow could be on the table.

Fin24 analysis details that the airline's BR strategy should look to offload its loss-making international business, as these are the routes it have the most competition, compounded by the airline’s "poor aircraft utilisation" and the challenge of Johannesburg's location adding "complexity to running a profitable long-haul international business".

  • Board members have started resigning

Board members are being called on to resign since the appointment of a business rescue practitioner in December, with Martin Kingston doing so over the weekend.

Trade unions the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) welcomed the resignation of SAA director. The two unions also reiterated their call for the rest of the cash-strapped state-owned airline's board to quit.  

Kingston confirmed his resignation saying there was "no need" for him to be on the board in the wake of the appointment of business rescue practitioners.  

* Compiled by Selene Brophy