SAA to continue operating repatriation and cargo flights in and beyond May

SAA' Thandeka Mgoduso: We are proactively responding to requests for essential cargo.

Struggling South African Airways (SAA) has announced that it will continue to operate repatriation and cargo flights in May and beyond. 

SAA went into business rescue in December 2019 and business rescue practitioners at the airline have warned that operations would grind to a halt on 8 May after the government indicated it could no longer provide financial backing for the airline. However, public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan said earlier this week efforts were underway to ensure this did not happen.

In a statement, SAA said that it has no plans to cease its operations on 8 May. “The airline will honour all existing commitments to provide air transportation services to its customers and any other requests that it receives,” it read. 

The company stated that it had received and was considering several requests for repatriation flights to operate to North, West and East Africa, the UK, Middle East, South and North America, and the Far East during the course of May.

Many foreign nationals are stranded in South Africa following the lockdown that was implemented from 27 March. 

SAA interim executive chairperson Thandeka Mgoduso said that the airline is in ongoing discussions with the departments of Public Enterprises and International Relations and Cooperation regarding other destinations where South African citizens may be stranded. 

"Further, we are responding proactively in those instances where there is a need for essential humanitarian cargo for our country and for the neighbouring states to be uplifted."

SAA has, since 3 April, transported more than 9,100 passengers to six continents and more than 870 tons of freight, both export and import consignments, which included essential humanitarian cargo.