SAA suspends all its international flights
Cash-strapped South African Airways has suspended all its international flights with immediate effect.
The state-owned entity, which is under business rescue, made the announcement after the confirmed cases of Covid-19 climbed to 202 on Friday.
The company said the international and regional operations will be iced until May 31 in response to a government travel ban aimed at stopping the transmission of the coronavirus (Covid-19).
"The Covid-19 pandemic and attendant travel restrictions, resulted in substantial decline in demand for air travel.
"The situation caused many airlines across the world to ground aircraft, release their employees and to cancel flights. In the case of SAA, this decision means that SAA will only render services on its regional and domestic routes," said SAA in a media statement.
"Following the declaration of the state of disaster after the outbreak of Covid-19 in South Africa, the government announced a travel ban and issued regulations, which introduced certain measures aimed at combating the spread or transmission of the virus."
The airline operates in three markets that form part of countries listed in the travel ban as high-risk areas, which include the US (Washington DC and New York, JFK), the United Kingdom (London, Heathrow) and Germany (Frankfurt and Munich).
"In addition, SAA operates flights to Australia (Perth) and Brazil (São Paulo), which have not been declared high-risk [but] all of which are now cancelled," read the statement.
"SAA regrets any inconvenience to our customers as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and we encourage all customers to visit our website, www.flysaa.com, for further updates."
The airline's customers were advised to either contact their travel agents or for direct bookings, South African Airways Call Centres on 011-978-1111 or 0861 606-606 or 0800 214-774 or +27 (0)11 978-2888.
The company's chief executive Zuks Ramasia said: “In support of efforts by government to deal with this pandemic, and in the best interests of our crew, passengers and the public, we have decided to suspend all international flights until 31 May 2020.
"It is all our responsibility, not just government, to curb further transmission of the virus. In addition, the increasing risks to our crew of contracting the virus including the possibility of being trapped in foreign destinations as a consequence of increasing travel bans cannot be ignored.
"We also recognise the fluidity in the conditions we operate in and the need to respond to these changes with speed, to this end we commit to keep all our stakeholders abreast of any changes on an ongoing basis.”
“We thank customers for their support by continuing to place their trust in South African Airways with their travel plans,” she added.