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Embattled SAA temporarily halts Hong Kong services

South African Airways is suspending its Hong Kong service for three weeks owing to losses it is incurring on the route, which have deepened as a result of the political unrest in the territory.

The Star Alliance airline, which is already coping with network disruption from industrial action, says it will halt the Johannesburg-Hong Kong flights from 23 November.

This suspension will remain in effect until 14 December. The airline uses Airbus A340-300s for the four-times-weekly Hong Kong service.

SAA says the losses on the route are "significant" and have been "exacerbated" by the months of political tension driven by protests against the government.

“The decision to suspend services to Hong Kong is regrettable, but necessitated by the current downturn in business due to the developing challenges in the region," says chief commercial officer Philip Saunders.

"By suspending these flights, we can concentrate on resuming more regional services at the earliest opportunity and make better use of all our resources.”

Monthly passenger numbers at Hong Kong airport had shown increases from January to July, but suddenly fell by more than 12% in August to fewer than 6 million.

This situation has deteriorated since, with a 13% fall in October.

SAA points out that it one of several operators which have reduced capacity to Hong Kong.

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