After more than a year since SAA’s business rescue plan was approved (and the plan was outlined that unflown ticket liabilities would be refunded to passengers in full), SAA has started paying out refunds. This was confirmed by Asata, which is working closely with SAA’s new management team, as well as a number of retail travel agencies.
“Throughout the SAA business rescue, Asata remained close to the process; supported the removal of unflown ticket liability from the creditors’ list to secure the best chance of getting refunds or having an SAA that can meet its voucher obligations, and we are now working closely with the new SAA management team to help them understand industry’s expectations. This includes managing the refund/voucher expectation in a manner that will rebuild confidence and trust from the trade and the consumer,” said Asata ceo, Otto de Vries, in his recent address at the association’s AGM.
“Refunds have begun to trickle through and I have understood that all payments for the Q4 retail agreements post-BRP have been paid out (December 2019-February 2021). I meet with SAA on a weekly basis now to get updates on the status of the refunds and start-up plans.”
Otto told Travel News that SAA had received more than 17 000 refund applications on BSPlink alone and that the airline’s small refund team were making their way through this list and paying out refunds as cash trickled into the airline’s account in tranche payments.
“This is a great first step and we are happy that SAA is honouring its commitment to refund passengers for services that were not delivered. We have repeatedly highlighted to them that the way this is handled will be critical to restoring the trust of the industry and their support of the new SAA. Unfortunately, this will not be a quick process to conclude, though we continue to urge SAA to work through this expeditiously,” said Otto.
Md of eTravel, Tammy Hunt, ceo of Tourvest Travel Services, Morné du Preez, and FCTG gm product and marketing, Sue Garrett, all confirmed that their agencies had started to receive refund payments from SAA.
“We have been told to submit refunds and they are slowly starting to pay out. There are only two people processing these though, so as you can imagine, it is not moving quickly,” said Sue.
“We have seen a handful of refunds come through in the past three weeks but not enough to make much of a dent,” added Morné.