SA Airways (SAA) has cancelled nearly all its domestic, regional and international flights scheduled for Friday and Saturday as the embattled airline faces the “mother of all strikes” by unions.
The airline said this was to minimise the impact of disruptions for its customers.
“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 spokesperson Tlali Tlali said.
This comes after the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) announced that they would ground all planes on Friday.
This was in response to the cash-strapped airline saying that more than 900 staff could be affected by restructuring as unions demanded a wage increase.
Sacca president Zazi Nsibanyoni-Mugambi said the unions rejected the airline’s explanation that it cannot meet their demands due to a lack of funds.
Nsibanyoni-Mugambi said in 2015 workers were retrenched and the same reasons were given.
She said the process failed to deliver results because management was retrenching again.
Tlali said that during negotiations with the unions, the airline offered a 5.9% increase, but they demanded an 8% increase.
“SAA attempted to dissuade the unions from embarking on industrial action by providing firm commitment dates to SAA’s offer of 5.9%. Discussions are continuing to resolve the wage matter at the time of issuing the statement.
“SAA will spare no effort to work jointly with the labour unions to find solutions that accommodate the employee demands, safeguard the business and return operations to normal.”
Tlali urged customers not to go to their departure airports during the disruption.
He said only flights operated by the airline would be affected.
All flights operated on partner airlines and code-share partners, including SA Express, Mango, SA Airlink and Star Alliance would not be affected.
The following flights will operate as normal:
- SA 1000 — 1999
- SA 2000 — 2999
- SA 7000 — 7999
- SA 8000 to 8999
SAA will operate flights from selected outstations on Friday, back to Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport.
Regional flights, which will operate on Friday morning, will return from Maputo (SA147), Lusaka (SA067), Harare (SA025), Windhoek (SA073) and Accra (SA210).
International flights, which will operate on Friday evening, will return from Frankfurt (SA261), New York (SA204), Munich (SA265), Hong Kong (SA287), Perth (SA281), Washington (SA210) and London (SA235)