Etihad Airways is closing its office in South Africa and has confirmed that it will not operate to or from South Africa during the winter 2020/21 season.
But Travel News understands that the employment contracts of local staff have already been terminated, which makes it seem unlikely that Etihad will indeed return to SA skies after the winter 2020/21 season, or at any time in the near future. The closure of the South African office looks as if it will bring to an end the route of 11 years’ standing when the doors close at the end of December 2020.
When Travel News contacted the carrier for more information about the local office closure and termination of staff, an Etihad spokesperson replied by issuing a statement saying: “Due to the continued impact of COVID-19 on global travel, a number of Etihad routes to and from Abu Dhabi remain suspended throughout the winter 2020/2021 season. Etihad is working closely with impacted guests to notify them of the change to their itineraries and to re-accommodate them on alternative flights. Refunds are permitted for all future bookings with an original trade date on or after October 1, 2020 where any of the flights on the booking have been cancelled by Etihad. The airline is also providing flexible options for existing bookings.”
“Guests who wish to reach Etihad directly may contact an Etihad Airways contact centre for more information. Contact details are available at www.etihad.com/contacts. Guests who have purchased their tickets through a travel agent are advised to contact the agency from which they purchased their ticket for assistance. Etihad regrets any inconvenience caused by the continued suspension of the affected routes,” added the spokesperson.
A release distributed to the trade added that the airline had a rebooking agreement in place with EgyptAir via Cairo. “This option should be offered to the guest only if there are suitable connections available. This does not apply to groups, redemption or Free of Charge (FOC) tickets,” said the airline.
It added that agents were to get in touch with the airline through the etihadhub.co.za channel.