National carrier, South African Airways, has, from today (Tuesday) resumed all flights to its eight international destinations and has brought six regional flights on board as well.
This is as wage negotiations between trade unions – the National Union of Metalworkers South Africa (Numsa) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) – SAA, and the Department of Public Enterprises continue.
“Flights to the African cities of Lagos, Accra, Lusaka, Maputo, Windhoek and Harare resumed today,” said SAA Acting CEO, Zuks Ramasia, in a media briefing earlier today.
“Customers travelling to these destinations are being rebooked on the reinstated services and are being contacted accordingly,” she said.
As far as domestic flights and other regional flights are concerned, SAA continues to work with its partners, Mango Airlines, Airlink and SA Express to provide alternative solutions to customers,” said Ramasia.
Chief Commercial Officer at SAA, Philip Saunders, highlighted that by Thursday this week, SAA would resume one daily return flight between Cape Town and Johannesburg and one daily return flight between Durban and Johannesburg.
“We are working tirelessly to meet the needs of our customers – our number-one priority – and will be gradually ramping up our regional and domestic services as and when we can,” he said.
Acting Chief Pilot and Fleet Captain, Mpho Mamashela, was adamant that allegations by some union members that inexperienced flight deck and cabin crew had been deployed on international flights were “absolutely libellous and false”.
“The crew and pilots on these flights have no less than 16 to 20 years’ experience each and we can assure all our customers that there are no safety concerns,” he emphasised.
Ramasia added that SAA was prepared to take legal action against those “spreading falsehoods”.
As to whether there would be a resolution to the strike soon, Ramasia said the unions had shown willingness to continue the conversation in a “cordial and constructive manner”.
Sacca and Numsa members are demanding an immediate 8% wage increase whereas SAA says it can only afford 5.9% increase which will need to be deferred to March next year. “There simply isn’t money now,” said Ramasia.