02:02 pm
28 October 2016

Money-losing South African Airways cuts Abu Dhabi flight, scraps Etihad Alliance

Johannesburg (Africa Cradle) – SOUTH African Airways will cancel a code-sharing agreement with Etihad Airways as the unprofitable carrier prepares to end direct flights between its home base in Johannesburg and Abu Dhabi, less than a year after introducing the route.

SAA and Etihad signed a route-sharing partnership in May 2013 before expanding the alliance with additional routes and the daily Johannesburg to Abu Dhabi flight from March last year. The two carriers planned to share services on 49 routes, then Acting Chief Executive Officer Nico Bezuidenhout said in December 2014.

SAA will stop operating the Abu Dhabi flight from March 1, after getting approval for the move from South Africa’s National Treasury. The route hasn’t performed as expected, Treasury said in a statement Jan. 29.

The airline is discontinuing its code- share agreement with Etihad “due to route-network rationalisation,” SAA said in an e-mailed statement on Wednesday.

SAA, which has been surviving on about 14 billion rand ($895 million) of government debt guarantees, last posted a full-year profit in 2011 and has yet to finalise its financial statements for the year through March 2015.

The company, which has had seven acting or permanent chief executive officers in less than four years, started implementing its latest turnaround plan under Bezuidenhout, who returned to his role as CEO of SAA’s budget unit Mango in July.