SAA flies high to ensure clients float on air

I refer to the letter by Mandla Tyala in Sowetan of August 7. Airports are complex places that operate successfully because of the interaction of different service providers.

I refer to the letter by Mandla Tyala in Sowetan of August 7. Airports are complex places that operate successfully because of the interaction of different service providers.

In many cases, the airline is not directly to blame for the service failure, particularly during the airport phase of a flight itinerary as the service is provided by third parties. Having said that, it is not my intention to claim that we at SAA do not have any responsibility to our passengers.

In many cases we choose the service provider. Where lapses are caused by our contractors, we work with them, and with the Airports Company of South Africa, to address the issue. One area which resides primarily in Acsa's hands is the allocation of boarding gates. A delayed SAA flight can cause a change in a boarding gate. But, equally, this can be the fault of another airline's delayed departure or due to technical reasons that have nothing to do with SAA.

The claim, however, by Tyala, that SAA airport staff "rifle in your luggage and pick whichever of your possessions they desire" is irresponsible and highly unfair. SAA is aware that passengers entrust us with their luggage and that, ultimately, we remain responsible for the performance of our service providers. A passengers' baggage leaves the control of SAA once it's loaded onto the baggage conveyor belts.

Chris Smyth,

SAA general manager of operations, Johannesburg

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