October represents a watershed month for South African Airways. Not only is the airline launching its first intercontinental flight to Sao Paulo in Brazil since it took to the skies again two years ago, but it has also taken delivery of another two leased A320s to boost its domestic fleet.
With air travel playing a crucial role in connecting the country locally, regionally, and intercontinentally, the launch of new routes and the bolstering of the national airline’s fleet are critical to building relationships and providing access to intercontinental trade.
The Brazil route will facilitate numerous export and import opportunities and augment existing trade relations between the two countries. SAA will operate a wide body fleet with sufficient space to load palletised cargo and provide faster movement of goods, whether it is general cargo, pharmaceuticals, or high-value cargo, boosting the movement of time-sensitive goods.
Reflecting on how far the airline has come over the past two years in its mission to re-entrench itself as the country’s proud national carrier and flag bearer, SAA interim CEO, Prof John Lamola, says when SAA took to the skies again in 2021, it had a solid strategy in place. “It has not been an easy journey, but the more than 9,000 commercial flights under our belts to date bear testimony to the success of our strategy.”
“The choice of Brazil as our first intercontinental route was informed not only by rigorous economic and market analysis, but also by considerations of the strategic linkages of South Africa in the context of the country’s membership of BRICS.”
When the airline commenced operations in 2021, it started off with a mere three routes. Now, it flies to 10 international destinations, 3 domestic and 1 intercontinental route. SAA has built its fleet to incorporate eight aircraft. By March 2024, it expects to fly more destinations with a fleet of 13 aircraft.
This is good news for the country’s travel and tourism sector, which is expected to grow at an average rate of 7.6% annually, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Economic Impact Report.
The inaugural flight to São Paulo took off on Tuesday, 31 October at 12:55pm from Cape Town while the first flight from Johannesburg will take place on Monday, 6 November. Cape Town will operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays, with Johannesburg flights operating on Mondays and Thursdays.
Lamola says South Africa’s transport infrastructure has a significant impact on the growth of the economy and the efficiency of the country’s business transactions. “A fully functional and efficient national airline is critical for bolstering South Africa’s trade relations and opening up future growth prospects.”