Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Johannesburg: South African Airways (SAA) will suspend all its domestic flights with effect from Friday, 27 March 2020.

“The decision came after government announced a nation-wide lockdown for 21 days aimed at combatting the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19),” it said in a statement on Tuesday.

The decision follows President Cyril Rampahosa’s announcement on Monday, of a nationwide lockdown that will come into effect from midnight on Thursday.

The national carrier said it supports the national efforts announced by government to contain, manage and disrupt the rate of transmission of COVID-19.

The suspension of all domestic flights follows on the earlier announcement by the airline to suspend both international and regional flights in light of the Coronavirus.

“All these flights remain suspended until 31 May 2020,” it said.

Arrangements prior to the lockdown

In the period leading up to the lockdown (24-26 March 2020), the airline will provide support to passengers who intend to change their travel plans and commence their journeys before the implementation of the national lockdown.

“SAA is committed to looking after the interests of its customers and will assist customers whose itinerary must change as a result of the lockdown. There will be one free travel change for travel between Tuesday, 24 March and Thursday, 26 March 2020,” it said adding that re-accommodation of the customers for this purpose will happen on a first-come-first-served basis.

Arrangements during the lockdown

The airline’s call centres will not be in operation for the duration of the lockdown, which is scheduled to come to end at midnight on Thursday 16 April 2020.

However, customers will be able to direct enquires through any of the following channels:

Customer Solutions: customersolutions@flysaa.com

  • COVID-19 enquiries on SAA policy
  • COVID-19 enquiries on Travel Bans
  • General enquiries relating to SAA business continuity

Reservations JNB: ReservationsJNB@flysaa.com

  • Revenue Tickets
  • Changes to existing bookings, for future travel
  • New bookings

Voyager Service Recovery: VoyagerServiceRecovery@flysaa.com

  • Voyager Blue, Silver and Gold members
  • Changes to existing bookings, for future travel
  • New bookings
  • PIN Reset
  • Voyager Platinum members would continue to be supported via the dedicated email channel

Resumption of flights

Meanwhile, SAA has put in place measures to assist customers in the days after the lockdown.

“SAA will resume its domestic flights on 17 April 2020,” it said.

It further added that all passengers who are willing to defer their travel will be expected to comply with conditions set out in the updated customer reservation policy.

“Customers are advised that the updated policy applies across SAA’s route network, including domestic, regional and international flights.”

The policy provides for changes for a period that extends beyond the industry norm (where ordinarily tickets are valid for 6 months only for domestic travel and 12 months for international travel) which is up until 2022.

Below is a summary of the policy:

  • The policy applies to tickets issued on/before 24 March 2020 and new tickets issued up to 31 Aug 2020.
  • Customers holding an 083 ticket for flights operated by SAA will be offered a refund in the form of a credit that can be used for future travel.
  • Customers holding an 083 ticket for flights marketed by South African Airways in the flight range 7000-7999 and Mango codeshare flights will also qualify for the credit.
  • The value of the credit will equal the value of the unused sectors (coupons).
  • The original ticket rules will be waived.
  • The credit must be used between the period 24 March 2020 to 24 March 2022.
  • The credit can be used to purchase another ticket of the same/lower value or used as part payment for a ticket with a higher value.
  • Any additional amount to be collected (i.e. fares, taxes and surcharges) will be for the passenger’s account.
  • Change of routing will be permitted.
  • This travel advisory waives the 72-hour rule

The full policy is available at www.flysaa.com

Customers can call the airline’s call centre on +27 (0)11 978-1111 or 0861 606 606 or 0800 214 774 (South Africa only) or +27 (0)11 978-2888.

The national carrier apologised to its customers for the inconvenience caused as a result of the suspension of its flights.

“We trust that our customers and stakeholders will appreciate that these decisions are meant for the national benefit,” it said. –SAnews.gov.za