April 07, 2020: South African Airways (SAA) Cargo flew its first cargo charter from Johannesburg to Frankfurt in the belly-hold of its A340-600. The aircraft carried avocados and passion fruit to Frankfurt, whereas, pharmaceuticals and baby milk powder to Johannesburg on return, Giuseppe Tarantini, head of sales - cargo posted on his LinkedIn page.

The next pure cargo flight is scheduled to depart from Johannesburg to Guangzhou today. It will operate on the same aircraft type for the collection and delivery of medical supplies.

“SAA has demonstrated agility and we are working with our partners to provide them and our country with solutions that are relevant in these difficult times. The decision to deploy an A346, is based on both its capacity and range and so bolsters our freighter services during this time when there is a high demand for cargo shipments,” said SAA Cargo’s acting general manager Justice Luthuli in an SAA release.

The outbound cargo included perishables such as fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, laboratory supplies as well as automotive and aircraft parts for repairs. On the inbound leg from Europe, the aircraft landed in Johannesburg and the cargo included testing kits for Covid-19, immunological pharmaceuticals, insulin, surgical personal protective equipment (PPE), and processing equipment for food such as baby milk powder.

SAA announced its decision to suspend all its domestic flights effective March 27 until April 16, 2020. The decision came after the government announced a nation-wide lockdown for 21 days aimed at combating the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19).

Till May 31, 2020, SAA suspended all intercontinental and Africa regional flights. The suspended flights include Accra (Ghana), Lusaka (Zambia), Harare (Zimbabwe), Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), Windhoek (Namibia), Lagos (Nigeria), Entebbe (Uganda), Livingstone (Zambia), Blantyre & Lilongwe (Malawi), Nairobi (Kenya), Kinshasa (DRC), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), and Maputo (Mozambique).

Subsequent to the announcement and the start of the lockdown, representatives of several governments have engaged with the joint BRPs of SAA to consider having SAA provide the safe passage of their citizens to their respective home countries.

“In these difficult times, SAA is committed to collaborating with all its partners and stakeholders in the fight against Covid-19. The airline will ensure the necessary transfer of passengers and essential cargo takes place in a safe and compliant manner for all during these flights,” noted BRPs Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana.

Meanwhile, acting CEO Zuks Ramasia has resigned from the company and will serve till April 14, 2020.

In another development, SAA which slipped into a business rescue plan in December last year has received an extension from lenders and creditors to publish their long-awaited rescue report. The new deadline for the business rescue plan is May 29, 2020.

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