SAA to revive Durban route

Just over three months since its return to the skies, SAA on Wednesday announced it would resume flights to Durban in March.

The beleaguered state airline said it would revive its Durban route, starting with a three times a day service commencing on 4 March. SAA interim chief executive Thomas Kgokolo said the short-haul route is one of the country’s busiest and customers have been asking for it to be brought back since the airline started flying again in September 2021.

“We’ve been waiting for the data to guide us on timing and we’re delighted that the time is now right to add this important route back to the SAA network and further support the recovery of South Africa’s business and tourism sectors,” Kgokolo said.

“SAA will make it easier for customers from across its growing Africa network to reach Durban on a single SAA ticket, and easier for Durbanites to conveniently connect on SAA to Accra, Harare, Kinshasa, Lagos, Lusaka and Mauritius services.”

The national carrier was grounded for a year and a half after it became the first state-owned entity to be placed under business rescue, which started in December 2019. Last April, the airline exited business rescue with R500-million for its working capital requirements.

For its relaunch in September, SAA first resumed the Johannesburg to Cape Town route before starting to operate flights to other African capitals. 

Kgokolo said on Wednesday that SAA has been back in service for just over three months “and is constantly evaluating passenger volumes and revenue projections on all its existing and target routes”. 

“The goal is to match capacity with demand as closely as possible and add new routes only where and when it makes sense,” he added.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has radically changed the aviation industry the world over requiring airline’s to be nimble but deliberate with network plans. Our overriding remit is to make sure SAA becomes and remains a successful and profitable carrier in this constantly changing and highly competitive environment.”

Since SAA’s exit from business rescue, Mango, the national carrier’s low-cost airline, has chosen a similar fate. Mango went into voluntary business rescue last July and has not operated flights since.

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Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.

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