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30.01.2020 South Africa

South African Airways to cancel dozens of flights in February

By AFP
Barely surviving on government handouts.  By GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (AFP)
LISTEN JAN 30, 2020
Barely surviving on government handouts. By GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (AFP)

South Africa's embattled national airline on Thursday announced plans to scrap close to one hundred domestic and international flights in February to reduce costs.

Cash-strapped South African Airways (SAA) was pushed to the brink of bankruptcy after a costly week-long strike by thousands of its workers last month.

The flag carrier was placed under state-approved rescue plan as a last-ditch bid to avoid total collapse.

Laden with debt, it has failed to make a profit since 2011 and survives on government bailouts.

"Flight demand has been scrutinised to ensure SAA is running efficient flights" said the airline in a statement on Thursday.

"SAA will therefore cancel and consolidate selected scheduled flights where there is low demand based on current forward bookings for the month of February."

A total of 48 domestic and 48 international flights will be cancelled next month, including trips to Washington and Nairobi.

SAA announced the cancellations one day after a state-owned South African bank offered to lend it 3.5 billion rand ($2.4 million).

It said the "conservation of cash" through "various cost reduction measures" would be critical to running an "efficient airline".

Chief commercial officer Philip Saunders vowed to minimise disruption and said affected customers would be accomodate on alternative flights.

South Africa's government has admitted it is still seeking a solution to finance SAA, which has a fleet of more than 50 and employs over 5,000 workers.

The airline had already scrapped almost a dozen flights earlier this month to "conserve cash".

sch/jh

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