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Mon 24 Feb 2014 10:31 AM

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Qantas axes South African Airlines code share after 14 yrs

Both national carriers are seeking government assistance to ease mounting losses

Qantas axes South African Airlines code share after 14 yrs
Passengers unboard a troubled Qantas Airbus A380 plane after an emergency landing at the Changi International airport in Singapore on November 4, 2010. The Qantas A380 made a dramatic emergency landing in Singapore, trailing smoke from a damaged engine, in the first mid-air emergency involving the Airbus superjumbo. The double-decker plane, which had taken off from Singapore bound for Sydney carrying 433 passengers and 26 crew, dumped fuel over Indonesia before returning to the city-states Changi Airport. (AFP/Getty Images)

Australian national carrier Qantas has axed its long-standing code share agreement with South African Airlines in the latest shake up by the troubled airline.

Amid intense speculation that Qantas will this week announce jobs cuts of up to 3,000 staff, sell planes and terminals and cut routes, it has emerged that the airline initiated the move to cut ties with SAA from May this year.

In a statement, SAA said on Friday the decision meant it would no longer operate flights themselves to Sydney, with passengers required to travel via Perth.

SAA has been flying to Sydney for more than 27 years before the code share with Qantas was put in place in October 2000 following the strategic decision for SAA to stop operating between Johannesburg and Sydney with its own aircraft and to begin code sharing with Qantas.

Kendy Phohleli, SAA General Manager Commercial (Acting), said: “We have always worked well with Qantas and together we are looking at a smooth transition for the benefit of our respective clients which are both business and leisure travellers.”

With Qantas preparing to announce a reported $300m half-year loss this Thursday, the two national carriers share similar financial problems.

The loss-making South African carrier is expected to apply for yet another government bail out any day amid howls of protest from critics calling for privatisation, the AFP newswire reported.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has ruled out a taxpayer bailout of privately-owned Qantas, but flagged support for lifting foreign ownership restrictions on the airline.

Current legislation limits foreign ownership of Qantas to 49 per cent.

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