South African Airways suspends all international and regional flights

South African Airways made this announcement:

South African Airways (SAA) has announced that it will immediately suspend all international operations until May 31, 2020 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 regional and 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.

The airline also made this announcement:

South African Airways (SAA) announced that it is suspending all international flights with immediate effect until May 31, 2020, to support the government travel ban aimed at stopping the transmission of the Coronavirus (Covid-19).

As a direct consequence of this suspension, there was an immediate drastic reduction of demand for the African regional flights. SAA is a network carrier, which means that a significant part of the regional bookings demand is fed by the passengers that travel to or from the international destinations.

Therefore, the suspension of the international flights has resulted in the airline not being able to operate its normal network. This resulted in operation of regional flights not being commercially viable anymore.

Flights to the following destinations have been suspended as of March 20, 2020 until May 31, 2020: Accra (Ghana), Lusaka (Zambia), Harare (Zimbabwe), Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), Windhoek (Namibia), Lagos (Nigeria), Entebbe (Uganda).

Mauritius will operate until Saturday, March 21, 2020.

This decision means that SAA will only continue to render services on its domestic route between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

South African Airways aircraft photo gallery: