Financially struggling South African Airways (SAA) says it will not stop flying to Malawi in its desperate bid to stay afloat as suggested by some online media reports in the Rainbow Nation.
In an interview yesterday, SAA spokesperson TlaliTlali said there was no such decision in respect of Malawi as one of the airline’s destinations.
He said: “SAA has not made any network changes and should there be a need for us to do so, all necessary and required steps will be taken to notify our stakeholders and customers in the affected markets. There is no such decision in respect of Malawi as a destination.”
The airline’s explanation followed The Nation inquiry on an article news24.com published on Sunday suggesting that SAA plans to cancel flights to some African destinations, including Blantyre and Lilongwe in Malawi, Brazzaville in the Congo Republic, Kigali in Rwanda and Libreville in Gabon to counter its financial troubles.
The article stated that the airline plans to introduce a new flight schedule in October and that prior to that, it needed to dispose of 10 of its planes. The article quoted SAA sources as indicating that the airline owns only nine of its 50 planes and leases the rest at a cost of 3.5 billion rand a year.
According to the article, aside from its debt issue, SAA’s operating capital is exhausted and it owes 750 million rand to suppliers.
The article also quoted South Africa’s Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba as suggesting that the airline needed a capital injection of 10 billion rand (about K550 billion) to be financed through Telkom shares.
Founded in 1934 in South Africa, SAA has been operating in Malawi for 58 years.