WATCH | Ramaphosa against SAA route cuts - Pravin Gordhan to speak

07 February 2020 - 17:30 By Kgaugelo Masweneng
President Cyril Ramaphosa is against the decision to cancel routes at SAA.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is against the decision to cancel routes at SAA.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday he did not agree with the decision to cancel several local and international SAA routes from the end of the month.

Ramaphosa was addressing the media before flying to Addis Ababa to take over the AU chair.

“The minister [of public enterprises, Pravin Gordhan] is going to be making a statement this afternoon about the recent announcement about the business rescue practitioners. We are not in agreement with what the rescue practitioners have come up with ... that those domestic flights should be cancelled.

“We want to find out what the rationale is. We want to have a discussion with them because SAA is not only a great symbol for the country but also an economic enabler,” said Ramaphosa, speaking to eNCA.

The embattled airline — currently in business rescue — announced on Thursday through the practitioners that it would no longer offer any services from Johannesburg to Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth from February 29.

However, it will still offer flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town — albeit fewer flights.

SAA will also no longer fly from Johannesburg to Abidjan (via Accra), Entebbe, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Luanda, Munich, Ndola, and Sao Paulo. This also effective from February 29.

SAA will continue to operate all international services between Johannesburg and Frankfurt, London Heathrow, New York, Perth and Washington via Accra.

Louise Brugman, on behalf of the joint business rescue partners, said: “We would like SAA to remain a robust and a successful airline. We took the decision not to close SAA but to ensure it is revamped and resuscitated.

“Following a careful analysis of SAA’s liquidity challenges and after consultations with all relevant stakeholders, the business rescue partners have identified which routes will be retained to drive the restructured national carrier towards profitability.” 

SAA said it would refund customers booked on any cancelled international or regional flights. Customers booked on cancelled domestic flights will be accommodated on Mango.

No further significant network changes were expected to be made.