South African Airways announces return to intercontinental flights

Flag carrier of the African country will connect Cape Town and Johannesburg to São Paulo, Brazil, starting in October

South African Airways (SAA), the national airline of South Africa, has announced the resumption of its intercontinental operations after three years.

The destination chosen is surprising since it is São Paulo, the largest city in South America and where the carrier maintained a daily flight from Johannesburg until 2020.

This time there will be four weekly flights, two to Johannesburg and two to Cape Town, which will start on November 6th and October 31st, respectively.

“Our decision to begin the relaunch of our long-haul service with São Paulo was taken based on a rigorous analysis of the viability of the route. Sustainability has been at the heart of SAA’s approach since our restart,” said Professor John Lamola, interim CEO of SAA.

SAA A320 (Bob Adams)

Small fleet

South African filed for bankrupt in the US at the end of 2019 after years of consecutive losses. The Covid-19 pandemic the following year made their situation worse until the company stopped the service.

The return of operations only took place in September 2021, but since then the airline has maintained a very reduced air network, focusing on destinations in the region.

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The current fleet comprises just seven aircraft: five Airbus A320s and two widebodies – an A340-300 and an A330-300. In May, the South African government, which controls it, authorized the lease of another five A320s in addition to a single A330.

The flights to Cape Town will be SAA’s first long-haul flights since 2012 when the airline ended its service to London (Heathrow).


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