South African Airways is to continue conducting services for the time being, defying the 8 May date for cessation of operations given by the airline’s business rescue practitioners

Unions are claiming a Labour Court victory after they brought a case to halt a retrenchment process for the carrier’s personnel.

SAA says it will “continue to operate” repatriation and cargo flights during May “and beyond”.

“We are responding pro-actively in those instances where there is a need for essential humanitarian cargo for our country and for the neighbouring states to be uplifted,” says interim SAA executive chair Thandeka Mgoduso.

SAA adds that it will “honour all existing commitments” to provide air transportation services to its customers, pointing out that it has received requests for repatriation from several regions including the Middle East, the Americas, and Asia.

Union NUMSA and the cabin crew association SACCA have “secured a victory” against “unfair” retrenchments following an urgent application at the Labour Court, says NUMSA general secretary Irvin Jim.

The South African Federation of Trade Unions, with which NUMSA is affiliated, says that the action has “stopped the…business rescue practitioners [in] their tracks”.

“It was always irrational and illogical for the [practitioners] to rush retrenchments without first producing the rescue plan,” adds the federation, accusing the government of failing to protect citizens’ interests.

SAA’s rescue practitioners had opposed the unions’ court application but have yet to detail their next steps in the saga.

South Africa’s government has signaled that a new airline could emerge from SAA but the situation is uncertain given the increasingly-bitter conflict with the practitioners and lack of progress with establishing a transition between the old carrier and a new business.