Tag: flights

SAA takes off again on 23 September

Source: EWN

South Africa Airways (SAA) announced on Twitter that they would be back in action from 23 September 2021.

“The wait is finally over. In just under a month, the striking and familiar livery of SAA will once again be visible in the skies as the airline resumes operations. The carrier has confirmed the first flights will commence on Thursday, 23 of September 2021,” it said in a Twitter statement on Wednesday.

“After months of diligent work, we are delighted that SAA is resuming service, and we look forward to welcoming onboard our loyal passengers and flying the South African flag. We continue to be a safe carrier and adhering to COVID-19 protocols” said Interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo.

The airline said they would start operating flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town, Accra, Kinshasa, Harare, Lusaka and Maputo.

“Voyager bookings and Travel Credit Voucher redemption will be available from Monday, 6 September 2021,” the airline said, adding that it would would add more routes with time depending on the market.

“There is a profound feeling of enthusiasm within Team SAA as we prepare for takeoff, with one common purpose – to rebuild and sustain a profitable airline that once again takes a leadership role among local, continental, and international airlines,” said Kgokolo.

“The aviation sector is currently going through a testing period, and we are aware of the tough challenges that lie ahead in the coming weeks. We thank South Africa for the support we have received in getting us to where we are today. As we are now poised for takeoff, we see this as a major milestone for SAA and the country,” he continued.

South Africa’s national airline had its wings clipped and was grounded last year in March. It hasn’t flown as it was under business rescue.

In April, Kgokolo told MPs that should things go according to plan, without any disruptions from pilots and the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline would be back in the sky soon.


South Africa moved to Level 1 lockdown on 21 September, after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced an easing of restrictions as Covid-19 cases continue to decline.

Among these it was announced that, from 1 October, travel in and out of South Africa will be allowed again under strict conditions.

According to StatsSA, nearly 16.5-million tourists visit South Africa each year. In 2019 alone, this employed 1.5-million people and contributed R425.8-billion to the economy.

Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has said that the sector is ready to welcome an increase in activity for both domestic and international tourists.

The restrictions, which have yet to be published, will limit travel to and from certain countries that have high infection rates. This will be updated based on the latest scientific data.

However, South Africa’s move to Level 1 has coincided with the northern hemisphere’s approaching winter – and many countries are seeing a rise in cases, resulting in increased lockdown measures.

According to News24, the 10 leading countries for overseas tourists in South Africa are:

  1. United Kingdom
  2. USA
  3. Germany
  4. France
  5. Netherlands
  6. Australia
  7. China
  8. India
  9. Canada
  10. Italy

The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, just yesterday announced increased lockdown measures, including a return to work-from-home; a 10pm closure time for pubs, bars and restaurants; stricter rules around face coverings in public; and strict fines for lack of compliance.

In mainland Europe, France has reported 10 569 new cases; Italy saw close to 1 000 new infections; and Germany reported 1 345 new cases Sunday, and a further 922 cases Monday. As a result, European countries are likely to impose more restrictions on public life in the coming days.

While Americans are, at this point, allowed to travel, the lack of stringent measures at a federal level has resulted in many countries putting tourists from the States on a blacklist.

Australia’s borders remain closed, although it is slowly opening domestic borders. India is also opening domestic borders, but international borders are not yet open.

China opened its international borders to select countries, which at the moment are Canada, Thailand, Cambodia, Pakistan, Greece, Denmark, Austria and Sweden. This list is expected to change according to the situations in each country.

It has also been noted that domestic tourism is on the rise across the globe as people explore their own backyards, rather than risking quarantine or last minute cancellations. A loss of income due to lockdown and an increase in furlough, retrenchments and unemployment has decreased disposable income – all of which will have a negative impact on tourism.

Source: MyBroadband

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has published new regulations related to alert level 3 of the national lockdown which allow domestic flights for business travel.

According to the regulations, domestic passenger air travel is not permitted for recreational, leisure, or tourism purposes.

There are also strict rules which must be adhered to by passengers, airports, and airlines.

No catering will be allowed during flights, no onboard magazines will be provided, and the last row of the aircraft will be reserved for isolation of suspected cases.

All the airports will have markings on the floor for social distancing of 1.5 metres. This will be applicable at check-in counters, security checkpoints, and airport lounges.

All airline check-in agents will wear face shields and people will be encouraged to use self-check-in to avoid queues.

At boarding gates, boarding will be staggered and prioritised in terms of the number of passengers to board.

To further encourage social distancing, only passengers are allowed inside airport terminal buildings – which means no family and friends can accompany travellers inside airports.

In a surprise move Mbalula announced that aircraft will be permitted to operate at full capacity, despite previous discussions about creating more space between passengers.

He said it was not necessary to create additional space between passengers because of the High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters used in aircraft.

According to Mbalula, these filters are highly effective at removing a virus from the air, which safeguards passengers against the coronavirus.

Three phases
There are restrictions, however, on the number of daily flights – and the airline industry will be opened in three phases.

  • Phase 1 will allow flights from OR Tambo, Cape Town, King Shaka, and Lanseria international airports.
  • Phase 2 will allow flights from Kruger Mpumalanga, Polokwane, and Bram Fischer international airports.
  • Phase 3 will allow flights from Kimberley Airport, Upington Airport, East London Airport, Umtata Airport, and Port Elizabeth Airport.

Mbalula said the initial period will serve as a trial to test the systems and measures to determine if they are holding up.

“We will further engage with the industry stakeholders on the contributions that are necessary for port health capacity in the operations of phases 2 and 3 of the rollout,” he said.

The big problem: few flights available
While opening domestic air travel was welcomed, it does not mean that you can get a flight – as there are currently very few flights and seats available.

This is partly a result of two of the most popular domestic airlines – Kulula and FlySafair – not planning to operate yet.

Kulula owner Comair has entered into voluntary business rescue and only expects to resume flights around 1 November 2020.

FlySafair, which is in a much better financial position because of its substantial cash reserves, remains unsure as to when it will take to the skies again.

FlySafair CEO Elmar Conradie said it can be more costly for them to start operating again under restrained conditions than keeping their planes grounded.

He said the current restrictions on who can fly dampen the demand to travel, which means they may have to fly with empty planes.

Without enough capacity it is not possible to cover the cost of a flight, which means FlySafair will lose money on flights.

Conradie said they need to fill a plane to at least 85% to start to make money, which is unlikely with the current restrictions.

“Without some kind of support from the government, we don’t know how it can be feasible to just fly for business people,” he said.

His views are echoed by SA Flyer Magazine editor Guy Leitch, who said airlines are unlikely to start operating in this restrained environment.

Even with fewer flights per day, aircraft will not reach the capacity levels needed to operate profitably.

Leitch added that companies have also changed the way they operate by adopting video conferencing and webinars over face-to-face meetings.

There is also uncertainty on whether South African Airways (SAA) will open up domestic flights again soon.

On 26 May the airline said it plans to restart domestic flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town with effect from mid-June 2020.

A day later, however, SAA’s business rescue practitioners said the airline’s announcement that it plans to resume domestic flights was “unvetted”.

There is a lot of uncertainty for local airlines around domestic air travel, and it shows in the online flight booking platforms.

Flight costs

  • Seats on Mango from Joburg – Cape Town cost R2 100 each way, and are only available from 15 June
  • Seats on SAA from Joburg – Cape Town cost R3 492 each way, and are only available from 15 June
  • Kulula is not opening until November
  • FlySafair is only opening on 15 June and does not have pricing yet

SAA cancels flights as business rescue bites

By Selene Brophy for Traveller24

South African Airways (SAA) has consolidated its domestic and international flights schedule due to low demand, as the process of business rescue looks to conserve funds.

So while these flight routes have not been cancelled outright, flights with too few bums on seats are being re-accommodated.

SAA has confirmed the following domestic and international flights have been cancelled between the airline’s main hub Oliver Tambo International Airport Johannesburg (JNB) and Cape Town (CPT), as well as between Johannesburg (JNB) and Durban’s King Shaka (DUR) airports.

Mango has confirmed it is re-accommodating affected passengers on certain routes operated by both airlines to minimise disruption.

Domestic flights cancelled include routes between Johannesburg and Cape Town and Johannesburg and Durban. Certain flights on the Johannesburg – Munich, Germany route have also been cancelled.

SAA says it will be reviewing further possible flight schedule amendments over the coming days.

Affected passengers seeking a refund are being advised to contact the airline or their travel agent to make alternative arrangements.

News24 Journalist Jenna Vester, who was at Cape Town International on Tuesday morning, reports that “no obvious disruptions for SAA were immediately apparent”.

The onus is on SAA to accommodate passengers affected by these recently announced flight cancellations due to low demand. However, if passengers elect to cancel any future, operating SAA flights it should be noted that they won’t automatically receive a refund, according to industry expert Natalia Rosa.

Added to this specific cancellation fees will apply. The usual credit card insurance and reversal of purchase, for services or goods not delivered should however apply in the instance of flight cancellation.

SAA has advised it will not be able to assist with disruptions at the airport due to the strike.

Domestic operators to contact to make urgent alternative flight arrangements include: Mango, Airlink, British Airways and Kulula.

SAA has had a torrid 2020 so far, with the company being forced to sell some of its airplanes – and now even some profitable routes – to become more liquid.

By Clinton Moodley for IOL

Some South African Airways (SAA) and Comair flights have been grounded due to irregular findings uncovered during a recent audit of South African Airways Technical (SAAT), both airlines revealed on Tuesday morning.

SAA revealed it “may operate an amended flight schedule” following a decision to recall some of its aircraft to undertake compliance verification in line with the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) requirements.

The decision to recall the aircraft follows an oversight inspection conducted by SACAA at SAA’s maintenance subsidiary, SAAT.

“Some of the flights will operate later than usual, and SAA has implemented its contingency plans to ensure business continuity,” the airline company revealed.

The airline revealed that there were four domestic flight cancellations.

“While there were only four domestic flight cancellations, SAA took steps to combine flights and deploy bigger aircraft to accommodate affected passengers. This has significantly reduced the impact of the inconvenience on the customers,” the statement added.

SAA maintains that the inspection conducted by SACAA “was in accordance with its regulations and a necessary exercise to ensure compliance and safety.”

Comair affected

Comair warned of possible travel disruptions as some of the company’s aircrafts are also affected by the audit.

A statement revealed that the “affected aircraft may not be flown until the necessary corrective action has been carried out.”

The statement added: “Comair aims to minimise any disruption to its operations. We will keep our customers updated. We do apologise to our customers for any inconvenience to their travel plans and appreciate their support. We are working closely with SAAT to rectify the findings and getting our flights back on schedule as soon as possible.”

Comair revealed that they maintain an IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) accreditation and the company is also audited by British Airways International, the Boeing Company as well as the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA).

Customers can check their latest flight status on the ba.com and kulula.com websites.

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