SAA slashes flights to EL and PE in bid to cut costs

South African Airways is cutting the number of flights to East London and Port Elizabeth in a shakeup that has also seen the slashing of flights to other African countries.

The troubled state-owned airline announced its new adjusted schedule, effective from October 29‚ on Wednesday and said that it was part of the company’s turnaround plan.

According to the schedule‚ daily flights to East London have been cut from three to two a day, and flights to Port Elizabeth have been slashed in half to two a day.

Flights to Angola’s capital Luanda and Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo were also trimmed‚ while routes to the cities of Brazzaville‚ Pointe-Noire and Libreville – with connections onward to Cotonou as well as Douala – are now under review.

In August SAA announced its intention to make changes to its network as part of a newly developed five-year corporate plan to bring financial sustainability to the company.

SAA owes nearly R7-billion in debt and was recently ordered to pay back R1.9-billion to Citibank by September 30‚ just two months after receiving a state bailout of R2.3-billion to pay back money owed to the Standard Chartered bank.

“There is every urgency to aggressively implement this turnaround plan in a manner that shows results in improved efficiencies and ensure schedule integrity for all our customers‚” said SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali.

“We are therefore monitoring route performance and have made some capacity adjustments to align our schedule and frequency for sustainable and profitable outcomes.

“Demand in Central Africa has remained at levels similar to last year due to slow economic growth in the region. Our intention therefore is to maintain our presence in these markets‚ and we have initiated discussions with our partners to decide on the best option to serve these markets.”

Last week SAA announced the appointment of its new CEO‚ Vuyani Jarana‚ who takes up his position at the start of November on a five-year contract. — DDC

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