NATIONAL NEWS - Africa’s largest privately owned airline, Airlink, has announced that as of 11 June, it will operate under its own flight code, “4Z”.
According to a statement released by Airlink, this will enable the airline to develop more routes and frequencies independently, and provides opportunities to establish new agreements with leading international airlines.
Also kicking in on 11 June is South African Airways (SAA) and Airlink’s “redefined” partnership, by replacing their franchise agreement with a new commercial one.
Airlink flights currently carry the “SA8” flight designation, but the new commercial arrangement will result in the use of the “4Z” code.
“The change marks a new era in the long-standing agreement with SAA. While SAA remains an important strategic pillar in Airlink’s strategy, the new arrangement gives Airlink the freedom to extend its commercial reach, develop more routes and frequencies on an independent basis, and extend or establish additional agreements with other leading international airlines,” the airline explained.
Tickets using the “4Z” code can be booked from today. This includes tickets purchased through travel agents, tour operators and online platforms.
Travellers who have already purchased tickets with “SA8” flight numbers from 11 June will still be valid for travel, subject to re-accommodation from Airlink, the airline reassured.
Ticket holders with SAA 083 tickets for flights after 10 June who do not wish to be re-accommodated may apply for a refund with SAA, insurance or through the credit card issuer used for payment.
“SAA refunds will be managed in line with its business rescue policies,” Airlink said.
The airline’s CEO and MD, Rodger Foster, said that the “4Z” was a good opportunity to take advantage of new markets, while strengthening its vital partnership with SAA.
“We sincerely regret any short-term inconvenience these changes may cause for our customers. This represents the best way to ensure we continue service all our passengers in a seamless manner, while also securing the best interests of Airlink, its customers, employees, suppliers and shareholders for the future,” Foster said.
He added that while Airlink intended to work with SAA business rescue practitioners, it also had a responsibility to “preserve Airlink’s viability as a financially robust, independent and privately owned airline.”
But if SAA’s financial woes worsened, Airlink might have to implement the transition sooner, or immediately, if needed, Foster said.