Cape Town - The future of national carrier South African Airways is in the balance, as it puts measures in place to stay afloat.
On Thursday, 31 August the airline confirmed that it will introduce network changes on the domestic and regional segments of its route network - stating it relates specifically to replacement of SAA’s own metal service on certain routes and not total withdrawal.
SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali says the affected routes would be announced as soon as possible in the coming weeks, along with the implementation dates. Another anticipated date is the start date of newly-appointed SAA CEO Vuyani Jarana.
Tlali confirmed Jarana has accepted SAA's offer of employment saying, "The one thing outstanding is to finalise his release date from his current employer and in this turn will allow us to announce his start date at SAA."
SEE: It's official: Vuyani Jarana is SAA's new CEO
SAA's upcoming network changes are part of the airline’s implementation of its newly developed five-year Corporate Plan that seeks to return the company to financial sustainability in the shortest time possible.
In June 2017, SAA aimed to address its current and long-term challenges, and bring more efficiency and financial stability, with the five-year business plan.
'Optimise SAA's schedule through its airline partners'
Tlali says the planned network changes are to optimise SAA’s schedule through the introduction of its airline partners.
"SAA will leverage its partnership with its sister airlines and will still maintain its SA code in those markets."
SEE: SAA optimistic five-year plan will stabilise airline
But what does this mean for customers?
"We will continue to provide services to the affected markets, albeit rendered by our partner carriers who will be operating on those routes. In essence, no existing or future customers will experience an adverse impact due to the introduction of the partner carriers, as the change will be managed seamlessly, “says Tlali.
"SAA will honour its obligations to all ticketed passengers who purchased tickets in advance."
SAA is confident that together with its partners it has adequately planned and prepared for the changes that are necessary to bring about efficiencies for the airline whilst also giving our customers travel certainty on their future business or leisure travel.
SEE: More direct flight routes on the cards as Cape Town Air Access and SAT join forces
A City Press report, previously detailed plans to meet some of its challenges included cutting more than a third of its Johannesburg-Cape Town route - one of the most profitable flight routes in the world, but diminished in gainfulness due to more direct international flights to Cape Town." SAA currently has 17 daily return flights between the two cities.
The report also indicated that SAA "plans to cancel all flights to Port Elizabeth and East London, as well as flights to all central African destinations. It will also cut back its already reduced international flight offering, and get rid of at least 10 of the more than 50 planes in its fleet".
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