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South African Airways strike: 40,000 passengers’ travel plans wrecked by two-day walkout - THE INDEPENDENT

NOVEMBER 15, 2019

BY   Simon Calder


As a two-day strike begins at South African Airways (SAA), 40,000 passengers have had their travel plans wrecked.

a large air plane flying in the sky© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

Members of the South African Cabin Crew Association and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa are taking industrial action in a dispute over pay and conditions.

SAA has told passengers not to turn up at airports in South Africa and worldwide.

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Almost all flights have been cancelled, except for some of Friday’s international departures – including to Heathrow, Frankfurt and Munich.

© Reuters Philip Saunders, SAA’s chief commercial officer, said: “Passengers are advised to follow our re-accommodation travel policy to exercise their rights when flights are cancelled.

“Customers are requested not to travel to their departure airports unless in possession of a rebooked itinerary.

“SAA continues to spare no effort to find solutions that accommodate the employee demands, safeguard the business and return operations to normal.”

The airline says: “Where possible, passengers will be rebooked onto flights operated by any of SAA’s Star Alliance partners to travel to their final destination with minimal disruption.”

© Reuters It will offer full refunds to passengers who wish to cancel their travel plans, or allow re-booking until 31 October 2020.

Under European air passengers’ rights rules SAA must provide passengers booked from EU airports with alternative flights.

Travellers may also be able to claim €600 (£515) in cash compensation.

SAA has not published its financial results since 2017, when it lost £145m. 

The state-owned airline is believed to be heavily lossmaking, with the strike costing an additional £3m per day.

© Getty Its chief executive, Vuyani Jarana, had vowed to transform SAA’s fortunes, saying he would “break the loss-making cycle and transform the airline into a viable and sustainable entity”. 

But he resigned in June 2019, saying his strategy was being “systematically undermined”.

Mr Jarana has been replaced by Zuks Ramazia as acting CEO.

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