South African Airways (SAA) on Wednesday cancelled its scheduled flights to Blantyre, Malawi, after the announcement of the closure of the main runway at Chileka International Airport for maintenance.
"The aircraft size which SAA operates to Blantyre does not fit in the required categories/classes of the secondary runway, which will remain operational. Accordingly, SAA's operations to Blantyre have been cancelled, for Wednesday, 24 April 2019 and Saturday, 27 April 2019," said SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali.
However, contingency plans have been put in place for smaller aircraft operated by SA Express to operate this route, with the exception of the Wednesday and Saturday flights.
SA Express' Q400 turbo prop aircraft will continue with SAA's scheduled operations with the exception of the 24th and 27th April 2019, whereon no scheduled operation will be available to or from Blantyre.
"We apologise to our valued passengers and customers for the inconvenience caused by these cancellations," said Tlali.
SAA operates a three weekly service between Johannesburg and Blantyre on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Airport authorities notified SAA that the main runway will be closed from 24 April to 23 July 2019 for maintenance and rehabilitation. However, the secondary runway will remain operational for the duration of the works and will be used for arrivals and departures of aircraft of appropriate categories/classes.
The national carrier will compensate passengers who had purchased tickets to travel in the premium cabin.
"The nature of the aircraft deployed during the rehabilitation of the runway will be a single cabin aircraft. In the light of this change, SAA has decided to compensate all passengers who had purchased tickets to travel in the premium cabin. The decision was based on the nature of the offering in the single cabin aircraft and in accordance with our compensation policy," said Tlali.
Other customers will be re-accommodated to Lilongwe, as these operations are unaffected. These passengers will have an option of reconnecting from Lilongwe for onward travel by air or ground transport.
Meanwhile, all passengers that have not been ticketed will be rebooked onto the next available flight.
There are rebooking conditions for ticketed individual passengers and groups, including that:
SAA will rebook affected passengers onto the operation between Johannesburg and Blantyre, where applicable;
Re-accommodation of reservations has been made by South African Airways onto the closest available flight between Johannesburg and Blantyre in the same booking class.
Change fees will be waivered
Tickets must be re-issued on/before 07 May 2019. The booking owner may re-issue the ticket.
Tickets to be endorsed "INVOL Re-RRT due BLZ RUNWAY Closure/Date".
A full refund of the unused portion/ticket will only be considered once the aforementioned options have been considered.
Customers can also contact SAA's contact centre in South Africa on (011) 978 1111 or 0861 606 606 and in Blantyre on +265 1820 991 for further information.
Read the original article on SAnews.gov.za.
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