South African Airways (SAA) has denied reports of wholesale flight cancellations, insisting it “continues operations as normal”.

In an online statement SAA said it “wishes to assure customers and stakeholders that flights to all destinations continue as normal”.

The carrier said: “The airline is aware of media reports suggesting it will cease operations.”


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It reported that at least 16 flights to and from Johannesburg have been grounded, including services to and from Munich and flights to Durban and Cape Town.

SAA conceded in its statement: “There may be flight schedule amendments.” But it said: “Operational changes will be managed and communicated in accordance with industry norms and practices.”

The airline gave no details of flight cancellations or schedule amendments.

SAA had been due to receive 2 billion rand ($138 million) in emergency government funding on Sunday, with 2 billion more due to come from private lenders.

However, the government missed the deadline. South African media reported the Treasury refused to provide the funds without guarantees.

The Department of Public Enterprises extended the deadline for a bail-out while it continues to seek Treasury funding.

SAA has not made a profit since 2011.

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday. “A major focus of our work this year is to restore [state-owned enterprises] to health. Continual bail-outs diminish the capacity of the state.”

He added: “We will do this by appointing experienced and qualified boards and managers.”

A Department of Public Enterprises spokesman said: “We are determined to break with the past patterns of bail-outs as these have become a moral hazard.”

But he added: “We are determined to contribute to the business rescue process so that we minimise job losses.”

No one from SAA was available for comment.

However, the airline announced plans last week to sell nine widebody Airbus A340s to make way for four new A350s.

Acting chief executive Zuks Ramasia said: “The decision to sell the aircraft has nothing to do with the business rescue process.

“For some time we had planned to replace our four-engine aircraft with new generation and more efficient aircraft as part of our fleet renewal programme.

“When we received five A330-300s in late 2017-early 2018 we had already planned to retire five A340s at that time, but due to the operational fleet undergoing maintenance, the retirement of the aircraft was postponed. Now is the time to sell the aircraft.”