November 18, 2019 / 3:29 PM / 25 days ago

FACTBOX-The struggles of strike-hit South African Airways

Nov 18 (Reuters) - South African Airways (SAA) says its future hangs in the balance after its workers went on strike to demand higher wages and protest planned job cuts which forced the state-owned carrier to cancel all its flights.

SAA, which has not turned a profit since 2011 and is reliant on state bailouts, says the walkout will cost it 50 million rand ($3.4 million) per day.

Here is a brief history of the state-run airline and details about its operations.

HISTORY

* 1934: Began operations after the government took over assets and liabilities of Union Airways and renamed it South African Airways.

* 1945: SAA introduced its first inter-continental service from Johannesburg with stops in Nairobi, Khartoum, Cairo, Castel Benito (Tripoli) and Bournemouth. The trip took 34 hours.

* 1986: Due to economic sanctions linked to apartheid, flights to New York were suspended in Nov. 1986. The United States also withdrew from its landing rights in South Africa.

* 1997: SAA announced a new corporate identity with colours of South Africa’s new rainbow national flag on its aircraft tail.

* 2000s: SAA entered into Africa’s biggest jetliner deal by placing an order for 41 new Airbus aircraft for $3.5 billion.

* June 2019: CEO Vuyani Jarana resigns saying his turnaround strategy for the loss-making airline was being undermined by a lack of state funding and too much bureaucracy.

* Sept. 2019: SAA says a government cash injection of 5.5 billion rand ($376 million) approved for the 2019/20 financial year is expected at the end of the month but it still needs more money.

* Oct. 2019: SAA is open to outside investment and in talks with a number of potential partners, President Cyril Ramaphosa says.

FLEET SIZE AND SUPPLIERS

* The SAA fleet comprises more than 54 aircraft, with Airbus and Boeing planes. Its partner airlines include Mango Airline, South African Express, Airlink and Codeshare Partners.

FINANCIALS

* Reported revenue of 30.7 billion rand ($2.1 billion) in the 2016/17 financial year, compared to 30 billion rand a year earlier, with a loss of 5.6 billion rand. These are the most recent figures published.

DEBT

SAA has debt of about 12.7 billion rand.

NUMBER OF WORKERS

* SAA, which lost its place as the continent’s biggest airline in the last decade, employs 5,752 employees.

HUB

* Johannesburg

PASSENGERS

* Carried 6.8 million passengers in 2016/2017.

Sources:

Company website here Reuters.

$1 = 14.76 Reporting by Samantha Machado and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru

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