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Date published 04.09.2017

IMMINENT changes to South African Airways’ route network will affect medium-haul and domestic services, the airline confirmed last week. The move is a response to the carrier’s desperate financial situation.

Impacted routes and a timeline for changes have not been revealed but SAA said the process would be “managed seamlessly” and that it would honour its obligations to all ticketed passengers holding forward bookings. Those passengers will be accommodated on alliance partners.

The airline is targeting R900-million in savings per year from network cuts. Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba had proposed cashing in the government’s stake in Telkom to fund operations and the airline’s debt. However, there is still no workable and detailed plan to return SAA to profitability in the long term. A major foreign airline equity partner is also considered unlikely, as long as the government continues to own a controlling interest.

The network changes are part of a newly developed five-year plan. SAA said “the changes relate to the replacement of SAA’s own metal service on certain routes and not total withdrawal” and it would leverage its partnerships to continue services to affected markets, “albeit rendered by our partner carriers who will be operating on those routes”.

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