South African Airways (SAA) has announced that it is suspending all international operations with immediate effect, until 31 May 2020. This was in response to government banning non-essential international travel as a measure to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a sharp decline in demand for international travel, and many airlines around the world have ground aircrafts, cancelled flights, and released their employees. In the case of SAA, this decision means that the airline will only render services on its regional and domestic routes. SAA operates in three markets that are among the COVID-19 high-risk areas. These are the United States (Washington DC and New York, JFK), the United Kingdom (London, Heathrow) and Germany (Frankfurt and Munich). In addition, SAA operates flights to Australia (Perth) and Brazil (São Paulo) which have not been declared high-risk. However, all of these flights are now cancelled. “In support of efforts by the government to deal with this pandemic, and in the best interests of our crew, passengers and the public, we have decided to suspend all international flights until 31 May 2020. It is all our responsibility, not just the government, to curb further transmission of the virus. In addition, the increasing risks to our crew of contracting the virus including the possibility of being trapped in foreign destinations as a consequence of increasing travel bans cannot be ignored,” said SAA Acting CEO, Zuks Ramasia.
“We also recognise the fluidity in the conditions we operate in and the need to respond to these changes with speed, to this end we commit to keep all our stakeholders abreast of any changes on an ongoing basis,” said Ramasia.Customers are advised to either contact their travel agents, or for direct bookings, South African Airways Call Centres on +27 (0)11 978-1111 or 0861 606-606 or 0800 214-774 (South Africa only) or +27 (0)11 978-2888. “We thank customers for their support by continuing to place their trust in South African Airways with their travel plans,” concluded Ramasia.