SAA has announced a reduction in flights between Johannesburg and East London due to low seasonal demand. The airline has been receiving financial bailouts from the government to settle its debt that runs into billions of rands.
SAA Spokesperson Tlali Tlali says the flight reduction is a cost-saving measure to help make the carrier financially sustainable.
“SAA has not been profitable. We have to re-organize ourselves to put a strategy in place to put a reason why we have not been profitable. We are trying to become financially self-sustainable and not bother government. So based on what we have at the moment, we are adjusting the capacity we have deployed in East London to match the demand. It doesn’t matter if we have too many flights a day to East London when there is not too much demand because we are going to operate at a loss,” says Tlali.
Local businesses say this will hit them hard, as director of the Border-Kei Chamber of Business, Les Holbrook explains, “We have a problem with the decision taken. Bring those costs down. Don’t tell us East London is not a profitable route. It can be profitable if your structure was right. If they want to attract business they must actually meet and work with business,” explains Holbrook.