South African Airways Suspends All International and Regional Flights Until the End of May 2020

by Sally Cook

South African Airways (SAA) has announced that it will immediately suspend all international and regional operations until 31 May 2022 in response to a government travel ban aimed at stopping the transmission of the Coronavirus (Covid-19).

The COVID-19 pandemic and attendant travel restrictions, resulted in substantial decline in demand for air travel. The situation caused many airlines across the world to ground aircraft, release their employees, and to cancel flights. In the case of SAA, this decision means that SAA will only render services on its domestic routes.

Following the declaration of the State of Disaster after the outbreak of COVID-19 in South Africa, the government announced a travel ban and issued regulations, which introduced certain measures aimed at combatting the spread or transmission of the virus.

Amongst other things, the regulations, issued on Thursday state that: “Disembarkation of foreign nationals from the high-risk countries is suspended on airports upon arrival. Embarkation and disembarkation is permissible under the following circumstances: Disembarkation of returning South African citizens and permanent residents; embarkation of departing foreign nationals, disembarkation of a declared medical emergency; foreign nationals must be approved by port health services; upon landing, crew from high risk countries shall be subject to medical screening and quarantined for 21 days”.

SAA operates in three markets that form part of countries listed in the travel ban as 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. All of which are now cancelled.

“In support of efforts by 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 and regional flights until 31 May 2020. It is all our responsibility, not just 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 responds 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.

SAA regrets any inconvenience to our customers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and we encourage all customers to visit our website, for further updates.

Please note our customer and trade contact centres are experiencing very high call volumes. Please handle changes to your customer’s travel plans via your GDS and when necessary email for support by the trade support team.

We are handling enquires by prioritising customers who are booked to travel or intending to travel imminently. South African Airways apologises for any inconvenience to your travel plans further to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Before any travel check for updates from the South African Government Department of International Relations and Cooperation for essential guidance in relation to entry into South Africa and to the acceptance of international transit passengers.

Additionally, check for updates from for updates from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Commercial Travel Advisory Policy V6

South African Airways (SAA) will allow one (1) free change on SAA operated flights subject to the conditions below.

Assistance will be provided to all ticketed passengers holding a South African Airway’s ticket (only) and planned new bookings via any SAA Call Centre, City Travel Office or Travel Agent with the following conditions.

  1. Applicable to tickets issued on/before 20 March 2022 for travel between 20 March and 31 May 2020.

  2. Applicable for new bookings for travel planned between 20 March and 31 May 2020.

Rebooking Conditions Applicable:

  • Must rebook / reissue ticket by 31 May 2020.

  • Complete travel by 28 February 2021.

  • Rebook same booking class with no additional collection and change fees waived. Additional fare collection and taxes will apply, but change fees will be waived.

  • If same booking class is not available, upgrade to lowest applicable booking class.

  • Additional fare collection and taxes will apply, but change fees will be waived.

  • One (1) free change and ticket reissue permitted only.

  • Tickets to be endorsed “COVID-19 SA FLT/DATE”.

  • Applicable to all fare types.

  • Change of cabin will not be permitted.

  • Change of routing will not be permitted.

  • This travel advisory waives the 72-hour rule.

  • This advisory is applicable to South African Airways operated flights, Mango codeshare (SA2000) and SA marketing (SA7000) issued on 083 ticket stock.

  • This TA is also applicable to SA Express and Airlink (SA8000) flights that form part of an itinerary that contains a SAA operated flight, issued on SA (083) ticket stock and not on separate tickets of other airlines.

  • No refunds are permitted as part of this advisory.

  • Previous No-Show passengers are not eligible for this waiver.

  • SAA reserves the right to withdraw or revise the conditions without prior notice.

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