The airline says it will continue to provide a service on the domestic, regional and international networks for those passengers whose travel cannot be avoided.
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and low demand for air travel, South African Airways (SAA) has scaled down capacity.
This after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address on Sunday in which he advised against local travel in taxis and buses and banned international travel to countries that have the most cases, including the EU, US, China, Iran, South Korea and other identified regions.
“We have cancelled visas to visitors from those countries. We have plans to strengthen screening and testing measures at international airports,” said Ramaphosa
“The effects of the outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19) have led to travel disruptions and restrictions across the world, leading to the grounding of aircraft, releasing employees, and cancelling flights for many airlines. SAA is not immune to these realities,” it said in a statement.
As a result, the airline reviewed its flight schedule and decided to operate flights under circumstances and business considerations that will require scheduling of flights.
“Notwithstanding the decline in demand, SAA continues to aggressively review its schedule to match capacity with demand to the extent possible. Where feasible, we will consider options that include cancelling and merging flights,” said SAA Chief Commercial Officer, Philip Saunders.
For the period 17 until 31 March 2020, SAA has cancelled a total of 162 flights. Of these, 38 are international and 124 are regional (destinations on the African continent) flights.
The airline said it would continue to provide a service on the domestic, regional and international networks for those passengers whose travel is essential and cannot be avoided.
It will further continue to operate to and from destinations unaffected by travel restrictions aimed at combatting the spread of the coronavirus.
“Our priority is to assist those travellers wishing to repatriate to their home countries to do so as quickly and efficiently as possible. Naturally, this includes South African citizens abroad wishing to return home,” Saunders said.
Subject to the conditions set out in the travel ban announced by government in South Africa, SAA will also facilitate the transfer of qualifying passengers to or from the destinations it flies to, which have been classified as high-risk areas.