South African Airways (SAA) management says the ongoing employee strike could have dire consequences for the financially crippled airline.
The strike at the embattled national carrier has entered its third day and workers have vowed not to back down.
SAA maintains that is cannot afford the huge wage increases demanded by two unions involved in a dispute with the airline.
The unions and SAA management met with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to facilitate talks between the workers and the employer.
The unions, who have been on strike since Friday, are demanding an 8% salary hike while SAA is offering 5,9% a pay rise.
SAA's acting general manager for human resources, Martin Kemp, says that even the 5,9% offer cannot be instituted right away because there is no money in the bank.
We've said to the unions that we can give them 5.9% increase.. but the problem is that SAA does not have cash in the bank to pay it now as the unions want it. They want an increase in this month and we do not have the money.— Martin Kemp, Acting general manager for Human Resources - SAA
SAA is trying to acquire money from lenders but that process hasn't been finalised. It's not that we don't want to give the increase, the issue is that we don't have money in the bank.— Martin Kemp, Acting general manager for Human Resources - SAA
Kemp adds that SAA's cash flow dilemma will worsen with each day that the strike continues and gains momentum.
If the strike continues and has massive support, it will have dire consequences for the airline. Everyday we are losing money.— Martin Kemp, Acting general manager for Human Resources - SAA
Kemp would not disclose the outcomes of the mediation process between the CCMA, employees and SAA.
He explains that the airline was forced to cancel several flights last week when it learned about the planned industrial action.
This, he says, was in a bid to avoid scenarios where passengers were stranded.
It was a decison purely considering out customers' inconvenience and to avoid major disruptions to the business.— Martin Kemp, Acting general manager for Human Resources - SAA
Meanwhile, international flights for the airline are expected to resume today, however, domestic flights remain cancelled until further notice.
Listen to the discussion on Weekend Breakfast with Refiloe Mpakanyane: