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“New” South African Airways launches today with direct flights to South America

National government is officially relaunching South African Airways (SAA) today, with the event also marking the restart of direct flights to São Paulo, Brazil.

The launch is taking place in Cape Town today, 26 October, in celebration of the two-year anniversary of when SAA first resumed its services after going into business rescue to avoid liquidation and subsequently being grounded for 16 months.

“The event marks a very significant step in the resurgence of South African Airways. We look forward to the official relaunch of SAA, along with the introduction of its first intercontinental flight to São Paulo, Brazil,” said Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan.

A return to form

SAA first announced its intentions to add the new route to São Paulo in late June this year, stating that there would be two flights every week from the country’s two largest airports – Cape Town International and O.R. Tambo International.

Flights from Cape Town will be conducted on Tuesdays and Saturdays, while Johannesburg will see flights on Mondays and Thursdays, with all planes arriving at São Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport.

The company’s interim CEO, John Lamola, said it made the decision to introduce the long-haul flight following a thorough sustainability analysis, and that the new route would also mark the return of SAA’s long-haul services out of Cape Town.

The first flights to Brazil will depart from Cape Town on Tuesday, 31 October, while Joburg’s flights will commence the following week on Monday, 6 November.

Onwards and upwards

South African Airways is currently exploring plans to expand its fleet of aircraft in order to raise the number of destinations it can offer.

Earlier this year, the company stated its intention to procure six new Airbuses as part of a plan to re-introduce overseas flights, as thus far the airline was only providing inter-continental flights to locations such as Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria.

The state-owned entity then announced it had acquired an A330 and A320 Airbus, but was still waiting for an additional four aircraft.

More recently, SAA entered an agreement with SunExpress – an airline that operates as a joint venture between Germany’s Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines – resulting in the leasing of two Boeing 737-800s for operations out of O.R. Tambo.

The agreement is a “damp lease” which is an industry term referring to when an aircraft is lent with an accompanying cockpit crew but no cabin attendants, and this arrangement is expected to last for approximately six months to assist with peak demand season, according to Aviation Source News.

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