High-level industry stakeholders believe the route gaps left by SAA’s cancellation of 11 regional, domestic and international flights by February 29 – as part of its business rescue plans – will be plugged by other airlines.

This was the message from panellists at the official launch of Meetings Africa (which takes place in Johannesburg from February 24 to 26) following media queries.

“It’s supply and demand,” said SA Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona, pointing out that as soon as SAA announced that it was no longer flying to São Paulo from Johannesburg, Latam Airlines increased its frequency from five to seven flights, essentially plugging the gap.

Ntshona said SAT was always in contact with the airlines to see how it could assist them.

Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, was equally sanguine, noting that it didn’t matter how international tourists came, as long as they still travelled to ‘Destination SA’. “We’ve got to be able to work with all the airlines that can service the routes we need to grow tourism.”

Kubayi-Ngubane added that it was, however, important to improve communication about cancellations. “We need to make it better so that we are able to plan better as a sector.”