South African Airways the national carrier has cancelled practically all of its domestic, regional and international flights scheduled for this Friday and Saturday.
Releasing a statement on Wednesday evening, the only flights that will be operating the Friday and Saturday would be incoming international flights to South Africa. All other SAA flights would be grounded until Sunday. SAA board member Martin Kingston indicated during the meeting that any strike would be catastrophic for SAA, costing it R50m a day.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the SA Cabin Crew Association confirmed that had issued SAA “with a 48-hour notice to strike”.
Major disruptions, emanating from strike action spearheaded by disgruntled unions, follow in the wake of SAA’s restructuring declaration. In a media announcement made earlier this week, SAA confirmed that, in order to save the airline from complete operational and financial collapse, a restructuring strategy would be embarked upon in early 2020.
SAA heads for job losses
This comes after SAA had announced that it had informed 5,146 employees it was embarking on a restructure process which can lead to job losses, something the worker unions have slammed.
SAA has offered workers a wage increase of 5.9-percent but the unions are demanding 8-percent. The loss-making airline has also issued workers with a notice of restructuring that could see 944 workers lose their jobs. SAA says flights operated by partner airlines SA Express, Mango, SA Airlink and codeshare partners will not be affected.
SAA said in its statement:
“The cancellations follow an announcement by the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) that their members will embark on industrial action from Friday.
Assistance will be provided through any SAA Contact Centre, City Ticket Office or dedicated Travel Agent to all ticketed customers holding a South African Airways Ticket (only).
South African Airways apologises for the inconvenience and encourages all customers to visit our website http://www.flysaa.com for up to date information. Customers are requested not to travel to their departure airport unless in possession of a re-booked itinerary.”