Financially struggling South African Airways (SAA) is expected to lose over K2.8 billion revenue following cancellation of domestic, regional and international flights today and tomorrow due to a workers’ strike.
In a statement signed by SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali, the airline said the cancellation followed announcement by South African Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) and National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) that their workers will go on strike from today.
Both Sacca and Numsa are demanding an eight percent salary increment against a 5.9 percent increase SAA offered subject to availability of funds.
SAA operates 17 domestic flights, 38 regional flights, including to Malawi, and 15 direct flights making a total of 70 flights daily.
Reads the SAA statement in part: “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.”
SAA operates daily flights between Johannesburg and Malawi.
In a written response, SAA Malawi country manager James Chikaonda yesterday said the airline will incur losses.
He said: “We will have to reroute passengers on other carriers. That will come at a huge cost and loss of revenue. On average, there are about 70 passengers operating from SAA flights.”
SAA already suspended its flights to Chileka International Airport in Blantyre pending renovations to the runway that started in April this year.
SAA’s flights cancellation comes barely two days after announcing proposed cuts of more than 900 jobs following a restructuring drive as it continues making losses.
South Africa’s City Press reported on Monday that the airline has not made a profit since 2011 and is grappling with severe funding difficulties and an inefficient and ageing fleet of airplanes.