Flight Centre resumes sale of cash-strapped SAA tickets

Two months after its decision regarding SAA tickets and packages, Flight Centre Travel Group has decided to lift its ‘stop-sale’ policy towards the embattled airline.

Flight Centre Travel has announced it will start selling South African Airways (SAA) tickets again, merely two months after the leading travel retailer abruptly opted to stop the sale of packages and tickets at SAA.

The decision, announced on Friday 14 February, comes after the company’s preferred travel insurer, Travel Insurance Consultants (TIC) – a division of Santam, reinstated travel supplier insolvency cover to the cash-strapped airline.

 

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“In light of the above development, Flight Centre Travel Group has reviewed its position stated on 28 November 2019, and has decided to lift its ‘stop-sale’ on SAA,” Flight Centre Travel Group managing director for the Middle East and Africa, Andrew Stark, said.

“As of 14 February 2020, the group’s wholly owned brands — namely Flight Centre Travel Group, FCM Travel Solutions, Corporate Traveller, Flight Centre Business Travel, Cruiseabout, and Flight Centre Associates — will sell SAA tickets to its customers, in accordance with its standard terms and conditions,” Stark added.

Decision to cut ties motivated by risks associated with SAA

The travel group made the move to stop selling SAA tickets in November 2019, ahead of the national carrier being placed under business rescue.

“Should the financial position of SAA change, and we feel there is no longer a financial risk to ourselves and our customers, we will remove the stop-sale,” Stark said at the time.

Following the November decision, TIC said it would continue engaging all stakeholders on a way forward.

“We are confident that the decisions taken during the business rescue process are in the best interest of stabilising SAA and that the majority of stakeholders will agree to a definitive plan that will ensure SAA’s future success,” the insurer said.

“TIC will maintain regular contact with the business rescue practitioners and SAA to ensure that the decisions taken continue to meet our conditions of insurance cover.”

This is likely to bring some relief to the state airline which faces a mountain of problems, including low cash-flow and job cuts, much to the dismay of unions.

Further turbulence at SAA

On Friday 14 February, the Johannesburg Labour Court ruled in favour of the airline after the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) lodged an urgent interdict.

The unions had argued that SAA’s administrators were planning to unlawfully retrench employees.

SAA is tightening its purse strings and announced the cancellation of all of the airline’s domestic routes — apart from the popular Johannesburg-Cape Town flight — earlier in February.

 

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