SAA’s empty seats sparks further concern for airline

Posted by Elise Kirsten on 3 February 2020

A photo shared on Twitter last week of a virtually empty SAA flight between the UK and South Africa has added to the concern about the viability of the national carrier.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, aviation analyst Guy Leitch said: ‘Flying a half-empty or an empty flight from London is financial suicide. SAA pays around R400,000 in fuel on a flight, in addition to accommodation for the crew.’

According to Times Live, Marius Basson who has commuted between Cape Town and Bloemfontein by air each week for the past three years, said that he has noticed a steady decline in passengers on his SAA flights in the last six months of 2019. Last Wednesday on his flight to Cape Town passengers were shifted for weight distribution because the flight was so empty, he said.

‘Even though their service is still very good, their prices are very high. I just hope they will not discontinue this route like they did with other routes.’

Former public protector, Professor Thuli Madonsela responded to the tweet of the empty flight, showing her support for the national carrier.

According to Business Tech, consumers have been urged to continue to book flights by SAA’s business rescue practitioners.

‘Stakeholders of the airline should now have comfort that the rescue process is on a significantly sounder footing, and that passengers and travel agencies and airline partners may continue to book air travel on SAA with confidence,’ the practitioners said.

On Thursday (30 January), SAA said that it will cancel and consolidate a number of scheduled flights in an effort to ensure flight efficiency.

SAA’s Chief commercial officer Philip Saunders said, ‘We are committed to accommodating all affected customers on alternative flights, operated by the airline and its Star Alliance partners. Any inconvenience or delays are intended to be minimal.’

In response, Zazi Sibanyoni-Mugambi, president of the South African Cabin Crew Association, said ‘We understand that the cancellation of flights will assist in the long-term vision of keeping SAA operational.’

Image: Twitter/ @alechogg

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