South African Airways (www.flysaa.com) is South Africa’s national flag carrier and Africa’s biggest airline. Instantly compare airfares and book South African Airways flights here, or find out more about this prestigious airline below:
About South African Airways (SAA)
Owned by the South African government and founded in 1934, the airline today operates a fleet of over 60 aircraft flying to 42 destinations worldwide. It is Africa’s biggest and best airline in terms of performance, revenues generated and flight routes covered, both in terms of reach and frequency. The airline split from Transnet, its former parent company, in 2006, with a view to start operating as an independent and more profitable business entity.
The airline is no stranger to controversy, however, as continual financial underperformance and reputational scandals has plagued its reputation for a number of years. During June 2016, for example, the airline received negative press coverage regarding allegations that it was subsidizing the leasing of ten aircraft by its subsidiary airline, Mango Airlines. This effectively means that the South African taxpayer was subsidizing both these entities, and that the latter was not as profitable as reported. The question of privatisation is now more relevant than ever.
In addition, South African Airways has been reporting significant financial losses for a number of years, requiring numerous state bail-outs as a succession of turnaround strategies had proved ineffective. Having said that, the airline’s story is not unique in Africa, and with the support of government the airline continues delivering some of the best flight services on the continent.
Fleet and Flight Classes
Each of the airline’s passenger aircraft are configured with an Economy Class and Business Class cabin. The seat allocation per aircraft is as follows:
Airbus A319: 26 Business, 95 Economy Seats
Airbus 320: 24 Business, 114 Economy Seats
Airbus A330-200: 26 Business, 186 Economy Seats
Airbus A340-200: 24 Business, 226 Economy Seats
Airbus A340-300: 38 Business, 216 Economy Seats
Airbus A340-600: 42 Business, 275 Economy Seats
Boeing 737-800: 32 Business, 125 Economy Seats
Along the Johannesburg to Lagos and Abuja routes, all flights are operated with long-haul Airbus aircraft, offering business class travellers lie-flat seats as of mid 2014.
Key routes and African destinations
South African Airways’ headquarters are situated at OR Tambo International in Johannesburg, which also serves as the the airline’s primary international air hub. The airline flies to international destinations across Europe, Asia, Oceania and the Americas, priding itself in carrying both leisure and business passengers to and from the African continent.
Flying to Nairobi, Lagos and Abuja in Nigeria, the airline lives up to its slogan, “Bringing the world to Africa, and taking Africa to the world.”
Business travellers flying to Sao Paolo in Brazil, for example, fly from Lagos to Johannesburg before catching a connecting flight onwards. The Abuja entry point was introduced in 2015 to further strengthen the airline’s West African flight network and further facilitate trade with Nigeria. It also formed part of the airline’s long term turnaround strategy, which identified growth in African markets as a key driver to growth.
This move followed the successful introduction of flights from Accra in Ghana to Washington Dulles in cooperation with Africa World Airways (AWA). The growth in demand for the Accra-Ghana service met the airline’s expectations, and inspired more confidence for the airline to further enhance its footprint in West Africa.
With the addition of Abuja, SAA is now serving 11 destinations in West and Central Africa, flying from Johannesburg to Accra in Ghana, Douala in Cameroon, Lagos in Nigeria, Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, Cotonou in Benin, Dakar in Senegal and Libreville in Gabo, among other regional destinations. The SAA Business Class capacity along these routes was specifically bolstered with a view to meet demand from traders and other frequent business travellers.
As of 2016, South African Airways has codesharing agreements in place with the likes of RwandAir, Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Air Seychelles, Singapore Airlines and Etihad Airways, to name but a few.
Domestic Business Class travellers are permitted to carry a single piece of checked in luggage not weighting more than 32kg. On SAA’s international flights, passengers are permitted to carry 2 items of baggage, each not weighing more than 32kg. Along the Johannesburg-Lagos, route this allowance goes up to 3 pieces, with the option to buy an additional 50kg of excess luggage for USD90.
You can check in for your next South African Airways flight online, via mobile, or at the airport.
Online flight status tracker
You can track the progress of any South African Airways flight here.
Booking your own South African Airways flights
Use the above flight booking form to search, compare and book your own SAA flights for less, or visit the airline’s official page at flysaa.com.