an SAA Airbus A340 ((Photo: AirlineGeeks | James Dinsdale)

Several years of unsuccessful restructuring and the coronavirus outbreak seemed to have taken their toll on national carrier South African Airways

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The carrier had entered receivership in December 2019 and had suspended all flights officially in September 2020. This was mainly due to a total lack of cash flow. Last April however, the company had finally received from the State -its main shareholder- a financial injection of 444.5 million euros for its restructuring. This allowed the company to be rescued.

In June, the South African State finally sold 51% of its shares to a majority African consortium, Takatso. The latter has indicated that it is injecting a further 172 million euros into the company. The State will continue to hold 49% of SAA’s capital but will no longer intervene financially.

According to the consortium, the 172 million euros will enable SAA to resume and consolidate its activities over the next 12 to 18 months. This means the resumption of the carrier’s flights.

Announced at the beginning of the week, SAA will therefore take off again on 23 September. Its network will however be very limited. It will initially cover flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town as well as to Accra, Kinshasa, Harare, Lusaka and Maputo. The airline promises to add more destinations as demand picks up. Flights can already be booked on the airline’s website

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However, there is no mention of a quick return to intercontinental flights, especially to Europe. The company believes that competition is very strong in this sector and that it will have to be careful. But it is likely that London and probably Frankfurt will be among the first to see the return of SAA’s brightly coloured aircraft.

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According to SAA’s chairman, John Lamola, “SAA is starting up again with a formidable commercial asset”.