South African Airways‘ (SAA) joint business rescue practitioners say rationalisation programmes are under consideration for the airline’s subsidiaries as well as the sale of selected assets.

The embattled airline on Thursday afternoon announced that it is to close its domestic flights to Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth while the number of flights to Cape Town will be reduced.

“On the domestic route network, SAA will continue to serve Cape Town on a reduced basis. All other domestic destinations, including Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth, will cease to be operated by SAA on 29th February 2020. Domestic routes operated by Mango will not be affected by the changes,” says SAA in a statement.

Those that have booked with the airline will be reimbursed.

“All customers booked on any cancelled international and regional routes will receive a full refund. Customers booked on cancelled domestic flights will be re-accommodated on services operated by Mango,” the statement further said.

Some international services will also be closed.

“SAA will close the following regional and international services from Johannesburg to Abidjan via Accra, Entebbe, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Luanda, Munich, Ndola, and Sao Paulo.”

According to the joint Business Rescue Practitioners, every effort is being taken to limit the impact of job losses.

However, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) say the closing of routes could result in at least 3000 job losses.

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Numsa has expressed shock at SAA’s decision.

Numsa Spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola says the unions were not consulted about the decision.

“We are quite shocked and dismayed by the decision to cancel so many routes. This is going to have a devastating impact on the workforce. What they’ve done today is … we can’t express how shocked we are. What worsened the situation is that as we were engaging on this issue they went and issued a statement to the media to show that there was no consultation with labour. To date, we don’t have a business rescue plan. So, how do they justify why they need to take such decisions?”

Sacca’s Deputy President Christopher Shabangu says the decision to cancel the routes was not based on any evidence. He says SAA’s business practitioner must be replaced urgently.

“What we are going to court for is we believe the BRP is not independent as required by the law. They are influenced by the board. We need people that are going to take labour seriously and have a plan to deal with issues at hand.”

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