Just a day after announcing “flights to all its destinations continue as normal” South African Airways made cuts to its operation. Domestic flights to Cape Town and Durban are affected, as is the Munich route.
The company claims that the cuts are being made “in line with SAA’s usual policy of reviewing flights and consolidating services with low demand.” Moreover, it cites the need “to conserve cash and optimise the airline’s position ahead of any further capital investment.”
It also notes that its decision to operate the A350 on Johannesburg-Cape Town for crew familiarization and training produced “temporary surplus capacity” that justifies the other cuts.
Cape Town will see a loss of four total flights each way across three days, a relatively small trimming of the ten daily flights (plus seven daily run by its LCC arm Mango) each direction operating on the city pair. The route also faces significant competition from other carriers in the country, with roughly 30 daily flights operated by FlySafair, Kulula and Comair.
The Durban route cuts are more significant, with three daily rotations of six total trimmed from the schedule this week. Passengers will be shifted to Mango for accommodation, a move that should be relatively easy to accommodate with eight daily flights still operating. Similar to Cape Town, the competition on Durban is hefty with 20 flights by three carriers running in addition to the SAA/Mango flights.
For Munich the once daily A330 operates without competition and in conjunction with Star Alliance partner Lufthansa. The route runs as an overnight flight in both directions but will not fly for the rest of the week while the carrier considers its options. Passengers are to be accommodated on flights via Frankfurt or London.
The bad news comes the same week as the carrier pressed its new A350 into long-haul service for the first time to New York City.
The new planes are more efficient than the A340s they replace which should help with cash flow, though new aircraft are not cheap. The specific planes SAA is leasing come from Hainan Airlines and Air Mauritius. Neither carrier is on especially strong footing and finding alternate uses for their A350 commitments is good news, though the overall lease costs are not disclosed.