Following the well publicised financial problems of South African Airways (“SAA”), there has been considerable speculation as to whether its international route network would survive the current Business Rescue process.
The Business Rescue process is not yet complete and a new business plan for the airline is due to be presented by the Business Rescue Practitioners for approval by creditors at the end of February 2020.
However, SAA has already announced substantial changes to its route network, citing an urgent need to conserve cash.
SAA’s last remaining flight from London Heathrow to Johannesburg has survived the cuts to the airline’s route network.
As have international flights from Johannesburg to Frankfurt, New York JFK, Perth, and Washington Dulles via Accra.
Flights from Johannesburg to Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Munich and Sao Paulo have all been suspended from Saturday 29 February 2020.
Regional routes to be retained include Johannesburg to Blantyre, Dar es Salaam, Harare, Kinshasa, Lagos, Lilongwe, Livingstone, Lusaka, Maputo, Mauritius, Nairobi, Victoria Falls and Windhoek.
Flights from Johannesburg to Abidjan via Accra, Entebbe, Luanda and Ndola have been suspended from 29 February 2020.
In terms of domestic routes, frequencies between Johannesburg and Cape Town will be reduced.
All other domestic destinations, including routes from Johannesburg to Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth, will be suspended on 29 February 2020. Domestic routes operated by Mango Airlines will not be affected by the changes.
SAA has also undertaken a number of tactical cancellations during February 2020. Whilst the airline has ruled out any further significant network changes, this does not preclude further route suspensions. SAA is also undertaking other measures such as exploring the sale of assets and renegotiating contracts with suppliers.
It will be interesting to see how BA’s franchise partner in South Africa Comair, which has long protested against state support for SAA, responds to these changes.