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Back from the dead? SAA will operate flights in June – here’s how

Some South Africans will be flying again by June. And somehow, SAA has managed to survive through the lockdown. This is how they plan to operate flights.


Image via Adobe Stock

Easter may have happened six weeks ago, but we’re now witnessing an entirely different resurrection: South African Airways (SAA) have confirmed that they will be running a domestic flight schedule in June, despite the severe operational challenges blighting the airline.

How will SAA operate flights in June?

It was feared that coronavirus would be the final nail in the coffin for the struggling SOE. With Business Rescue Practitioners pushing to retrench thousands of workers, and a complete ban on air travel since the end of March, few could have seen SAA returning to the skies. Particularly when the finance minister was writing the company’s obituaries just last month.

But, as confirmed via an official statement on Tuesday, SAA plan to fly once more. In fact, their next commercial flight could come in the next few weeks, as they target a mid-June return to business.

“South African Airways (SAA) is currently retaining its domestic schedule, as published between Joburg and Cape Town, with effect from mid-June 2020. Accordingly, SAA is focusing on ensuring operational readiness to resume flights once permissible. This position will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.”

SAA statement

Which routes will SAA offer?

Having said that, it’s likely that the Johannesburg to Cape Town route will be the only one up and running in the immediate future. All international and continental flights still remain off the radar. Level 3 of lockdown only allows air travel for business purposes, and even then, workers have to stay with SA’s borders. Philip Saunders, SAA’s Chief Commercial Officer, says that the ailing airline is already prepared for take-off:

“Everyone at SAA is looking forward to welcoming and serving our customers once again. Our operational preparedness is underlined by the significant role the airline has played in global repatriations to and from South Africa and by our desire to serve the domestic market.” 

Philip Saunders

Essential knowledge for customers

SAA have also issued the following guidance to their customers:

  • People with unused tickets who are still intending to travel have been told ‘not to contact the airline yet’.
  • All customers will be able to use their ticket’s full value as a credit for travel on any SAA service up to 24 March 2022.
  • SAA will also permit a free name change if any individual customer no longer wishes to travel.