South African Airways cuts destinations; US flights not affected

Feb 6, 2020

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South Africa’s struggling flag carrier is reducing its route network as part of a plan its managers hope will revitalize the business.

On Thursday, South African Airways released a statement announcing that it would end a number of domestic and international routes at the end of February.

The cuts include services from Johannesburg to Hong Kong, Munich and Sao Paulo, and all domestic flights aside from those between Johannesburg and Cape Town, though SAA will reduce its frequencies on that route. Flights to a number of African destinations are also being eliminated.

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Flights to international destinations including New York, Washington, London and Frankfurt will remain on the schedule, and domestic flights operated by SAA’s low-cost subsidiary, Mango, will not be affected.

The cuts are part of the airline’s business rescue plan, which the government announced in December.

“The initiatives we are taking now will strengthen SAA’s business. We believe that this should provide reassurance to our loyal customers that SAA is moving in the right direction. We are focused on our mandate to restore SAA’s commercial health and create an airline that South Africans will be proud of,” the business rescue managers said in a statement.

For Robert W. Mann, an aviation analyst and consultant who has worked with SAA previously, this is just the latest chapter in what he described as a long and sad story of an airline struggling to thrive.

“Despite all the potential in the region, SAA and its regional SAX never managed to plan well, operate efficiently, or control their costs,” Mann said in an email. “There will no doubt be an impact on the South African economy and tourism.”

SAA said it would make every effort to limit the job losses as a result of this action.

If you’re still planning to fly the carrier, you could have wildly different experiences depending on which aircraft operates your route. Read some of TPG’s recent reviews to see what’s on offer.

Featured photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy

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