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South African Airways Returns to Service Today With Domestic and Continental Flights

Following months of preparation, South African Airways relaunched today with both domestic and continental service. The carrier’s inaugural return flight took off today from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg for Cape Town.

South African Airways Crewmembers Celebrate Airbus A330-300 Delivery in 2017 - Courtesy SAA

On Thursday (September 22, 2021), South African Airways (SAA) announced their return to service starting today (September 23, 2021), with an early morning flight from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg to Cape Town. The aircraft, and Airbus A320, was greeted in Cape Town by a traditional water cannon salute from the airport's Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) team. In additional to three daily return services between Johannesburg and Cape Town launched today, SAA is also restarting flights to five African capitals including Accra, Kinshasa, Harare, Lusaka and Maputo.

In Thursday’s announcement, SAA’s Interim CEO, Thomas Kgokolo, said,

“This week is a proud and significant one for SAA and its staff as well as all South African citizens. Our journey back to the skies has not been easy and I pay tribute to our dedicated workforce in all areas of the business all of whom have and are putting in long hours ahead of this day. People in every facet of the business want nothing more than for SAA to succeed and for us to build a new airline based on safety and exemplary customer service.

“We restart this business with a new vision of pride in the brand and one that has been inculcated into every staff member. Our first order of business is to service our start-up routes efficiently and profitably and then look to expanding the network and growing our fleet, all depending on demand and market conditions.”

Also commenting on the airline’s relaunch, SAA’s Board Chairman, John Lamola, said,

“SAA’s return will provide more market equilibrium in terms of ticket pricing. Since the carrier went into and then out of business rescue there has been less local capacity and that means tickets have become more expensive. Our return to the skies will mean more competitive pricing and will enable more South Africans to fly. Economics aside, there is also the pride factor. Seeing SAA’s tail colours on international tarmacs is not only positive for South Africa but the rest of the continent.”

South African Airways started their lengthy restructuring process on November 11, 2019, when they informed all 5,146 employees that the process might lead to job losses, as prescribed by law. The airline continued repatriation and cargo flights until May 2020 before temporarily suspending operations. SAA received a renewed operating license on August 4, 2021 and relaunched domestic and continental service on September 23, 2021.

Source: South African Airways


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