Phasing out of flights to be done responsibly: Pres Zuma

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Pretoria - While some of the loss-making South African Airways (SAA) international routes will be phased out - this will be done in a responsible way, that does not have a negative effect, says President Jacob Zuma.

Delivering his eighth State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Parliament on Thursday evening, the President said  processes are underway to implement a 90-day turnaround strategy aimed at stabilizing the finances of SAA.

“Accordingly, some of the loss making international routes will be phased out. But, we will do this in a manner that does not impact negatively on travel, trade and tourism between South Africa and the world,” said the President.

At the end of January, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene confirmed at a SAA media briefing that direct flights to China by SAA would no longer exist as of May.

This is part of a strategy to turn around the finances of SAA and part of the cost-saving measures that include cancelling loss making routes with China being one of them.

“Indeed we have approved the cancelation of the China route as government because we have a certain obligation. Part of the implementation of the strategy was the closure of loss making routes,” said the Minister at the time.

Speaking at the briefing on the airline’s 2013/14 financial results Acting SAA chief executive officer Nico Bezuidenhout revealed that close to R1 billion has been lost on the Beijing route in a three-year period since SAA introduced the route in 2012.

Bezuidenhout said SAA will stop operating flights to China in April.

Air China will take over the route in May with SAA placing a code on flights to China. -

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