South African Airways (SAA) has announced plans to scrap close to one hundred domestic and international flights this month to reduce costs. The cash-strapped airline was pushed to the brink of bankruptcy after a costly week-long strike by thousands of its workers in January. The flag carrier was placed under state-approved rescue plan as a last-ditch bid to avoid total collapse.
Laden with debt, it has failed to make a profit since 2011 and survives on government bailouts. Flight demand has been scrutinised to ensure SAA is running efficient flights” said the airline in a statement on Thursday.
“SAA will therefore cancel and consolidate selected scheduled flights where there is low demand based on current forward bookings for the month of February. A total of 48 domestic and 48 international flights will be cancelled next month, including trips to Washington and Nairobi. Click here to see a list of the flights that have been canceled.
SAA announced the cancellations one day after the Development Bank of Southern Africa offered to lend it R3.5 billion. It said the “conservation of cash” through “various cost reduction measures” would be critical to running an “efficient airline”. Chief commercial officer Philip Saunders vowed to minimise disruption and said affected customers would be accomodate on alternative flights.
The government has admitted it is still seeking a solution to finance SAA, which has a fleet of more than 50 and employs over 5,000 workers. The airline had already scrapped almost a dozen flights in January to “conserve cash”.
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