South African Airways (SAA) cancelled almost all domestic, regional and international flights scheduled for Friday and Saturday due to industrial action.
SAA said the flight cancellation decision was made to minimise disruptions for customers.
The cancellations will affect flights scheduled for Friday, 15 November, as well as flights scheduled for Saturday, 16 November 2019.
The cancellations follow an announcement by the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) and the National Union of Metalworkers (NUMSA) that members will embark on industrial action from Friday morning.
“We are putting our customers first and regret the inevitable inconvenience these cancellations may cause. By acting proactively, SAA can help customers find alternatives,” said SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali.
This is notwithstanding SAA’s repeated proposals to the unions to acknowledge the severity of the current situation facing the airline.
“Unless alternative arrangements are in place, customers are requested not to go to departure airports during the disruption as SAA will be unable to provide any assistance. Information on the status of flights will be regularly updated on our website,” Tlali said.
The cancellations only affect flights operated by SAA. Flights operated by partner airlines including SA Express, Mango, SA Airlink and codeshare partners, including flights operated by the Star Alliance partner airlines, are not affected.
These flights can be identified by their flight numbers and will operate as normal: SA 1000 – 1999, SA 2000 – 2999, SA 7000 – 7999 and SA 8000 to 8999.
Regional and international flights
SAA will operate flights from selected outstations on Friday, 15 November 2019, back to OR Tambo International Airport.
Regional flights on Friday morning will return from Maputo (SA147), Lusaka (SA067), Harare (SA025), Windhoek (SA073), and Accra (SA210).
International flights on Friday evening will return from Frankfurt (SA261), New York (SA204), Munich (SA265), Hong Kong (SA287), Perth (SA281) and London(SA235).
The airline will assess the situation on an ongoing basis and customers will be informed of operational developments daily.
During negotiations with unions, SAA presented a revised offer delivering a 5.9% increase subject to availability of funds from lenders.
NUMSA and SACCA demand an eight percent salary increase. The National Transport Movement (NTM) has not stated whether members will strike or not.
SAA attempted to dissuade unions from industrial action by providing firm commitment dates to SAA’s offer.
“SAA will spare no effort to work jointly with labour unions to find solutions that accommodate the employee demands, safeguard the business and return operations to normal,” said Tlali.
Earlier this week, the airline informed its 5 146 employees it is embarking on a restructuring process, which may lead to job losses.