South African Express Airways, known as SA Express, is halting all operations starting from March 18, 2020, until further notice.
SA Express halts operations as it struggles to cope with recent events, namely COVID-19 outbreak, the airline announced via statement issued on March 17, 2020.
While there is no clear date on when (if at all) the carrier could resume flights, it would use the operations pause to review current network and operations efficiency, as outlined in the statement.
All “non-critical” employees are being placed on compulsory leave, while customers are ensured they would be placed on alternative flights.
The company has been facing financial challenges and entered a formal business rescue restructuring under a court’s order in February 2020. The current operations cease is the second time SA Express is halting flights.
Previously, in May 2018, it was grounded by the South African Civil Aviation Authority due to “serious safety risks”. After regaining airworthiness certificates for a portion of its fleet, SA Express resumed operations in August the same year.
SA Express is a state-owned airline in South Africa. Established in 1994, it operated a domestic and regional passenger and cargo service, using a fleet of 15 Bombardier CRJ and Q400 aircraft (as of February 2020).
Meanwhile, the country’s struggling flag carrier South African Airways is trying to turn things around and transform into a “sustainable and profitable business.” In February 2020, the airline had already made route network cuts, tried to shift to more fuel-efficient aircraft usage, was optimizing the organizational structure and renegotiating contracts with suppliers.