The cancellation will affect only SAA-operated flights, said the airline.
“All flights operated on partner airlines, including SA Express, Mango, SA Airlink and all codeshare partners, will not be affected.”
The airline further shared a list of international flights will not be affected by the protest:
Assistance will be provided through any SAA Contact Centre, City Ticket Office or dedicated Travel Agent to all ticketed customers holding a South African Airway’s Ticket (only).
— SAA – South Africa (@flysaa) November 13, 2019
“We are embarking on the mother of all strikes,” Zazi Nsibanyoni-Mugambi, president of SACCA told a news conference in Johannesburg.
“We are grounding that airline on Friday,” said Irvin Jim, general secretary of NUMSA.
The unions are pressing for a three-year guarantee of job security and an eight percent across-the-board wage hike.
Pilots — who are not taking part in the strike – have accepted a 5.9-percent increase, they said.
The airline had announced on Monday a restructuring process that could affect 944 employees and “lead to job losses”.
The airline, which employs more than 5,000 workers, is one of the biggest in Africa, with a fleet of more than 50 aircraft providing dozens of domestic, regional and European flights each day.
But the company is deep in debt, despite several government bailouts, and has not recorded a profit since 2011.
The unions blamed the SAA board and executive management for the airline’s crisis.
SAA Chief Executive Officer Zuks Ramasia warned that the strike would “exacerbate rather than ameliorate our problem” and urged the unions to make affordable demands.
“The unions and all employees should be mindful of the current financial constraints the company is facing,” she said in a statement.
She said the unions were aware that the airline’s financial woes were “caused by a number of factors, including a severely distressed global airline industry.”
This, she argued, had resulted in “numerous airlines retrenching staff, embarking on cost-reduction programmes, implementing wage freezes, reducing operations, or even closing down.”
SAA ticket-holding customers have been advised to reach out to any SAA Contact Centre, City Ticket Office or dedicated Travel Agent for assistance.
“South African Airways apologises for the inconvenience and encourages all customers to visit our website flysaa.com for up to date information. Customers are requested not to travel to their departure airport unless in possession of a rebooked itinerary.”
(Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde. Additional reporting by Susan Njanji, AFP)