SAA stock images

Johannesburg – A protracted deadlock between South Africa Airways trade unions and South Africa Airways (SAA) on Tuesday threatens to dampen regional trade and tourism, ENN reports. The airline has cancelled over 200 flights since Friday, a development which costed them 50 million rand per day, and a lot more for the South Africa economy in foregone tourism and hospitality earnings.

 Although some flights resumed on Tuesday, the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) and South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) has since served SAA Airways with a secondary strike notice after the breakdown of talks on Tuesday. Air Chefs will be joining this secondary strike, a situation that risks plunging tourism and trade in the SADC region and in Africa at large considering SAA’s key role in connecting the region to the rest of the world.

 According to SAA representatives, only a deal with the unions will end this aviation crisis. NUMSA and SACCA Trade are demanding an 8 percent pay hike while SAA is offering a 5.9 percent adjustment. Indications are that SAA management had initially tabled a 6.5 percent pay hike on Tuesday, but later backtracked, leading to this protracted impasse.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the 2018 contribution of the tourism sector in South Africa, directly accounted for 2.8% of real GDP, which amounts to R139 billion and this is projected to grow to R145, 3 billion for 2019.

During his 2019 State of Nation Address, South Africa president Cyril Ramaphosa promised to guide the country in ensuring that 21 million people would visit South Africa over the next decade. And as the SAA drama unfolds,    leading tourism voices have stood up to dispute this claim. On Tuesday, SA Tourism (SAT) told the Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Tourism that the President’s target was unrealistic, indicating that a more realistic tourism target would be 16.5 million by 2030. The SAT target falls short of Cyril Ramaphosa’s 21 million visitors target by 21.4 percent.

About SAA

Formed in 1934, South African Airways (SAA) is the leading carrier in Africa, serving over 40 destinations, in partnership with SA Express, SA Airlink and its low cost carrier, Mango, within South Africa and across the continent, and nine intercontinental routes from its Johannesburg hub. It is a member of the largest international airline network, Star Alliance. SAA’s core business is the provision of passenger airline and cargo transport services together with related services, which are provided through SAA and its wholly owned subsidiaries: SAA Technical; Mango its low cost carrier; and Air Chefs, the catering entity of SAA. SAA is the winner of the ‘Best Airline in Africa’ Award in the regional category for thirteen consecutive years and the winner of ‘Service Excellence Africa’ for three years.