South Africa Airways on Thursday once again return to domestic and regional service with the resumption of flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town.
More than a year since its last flight, the carrier flew from Tambo International in Johannesburg to Cape Town International to mark its return early on Thursday morning. That route will be joined by flights from five other African capitals—Accra, Kinshasa, Harare, Lusaka, and Maputo.
The resumption marks the start of a new era for South Africa Airways—the carrier had been dealing with financial trouble since before the pandemic. In September 2019, it entered a formal business rescue process, which it came out of at the end of April 2021 as a changed company, with the South African government agreeing to sell its majority stake to investors in June.
The company’s interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo called this week “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 business all of whom have and are putting in long hours ahead of this day,” he added.
The plan now is for South Africa Airways to service its start-routes “efficiently and profitably” before expanding the network and growing the fleet. All that will depend on demand for travel and other market conditions.
Aside from getting employees back to work and guests back in the air, the carrier’s interim executive Commercial Simon Newton Smith said that the rebirth of South African Airways is “a metaphor for the country.”
“It has not always had the easiest history, but it is resilient, its people are rightfully proud, and it’s a country never to be underestimated. Our job is to show the world that South Africa is rebounding and starting the journey to a full and better recovery.”