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South African Airways

South African Airways

South African Airways

Over the decades, South African Airways has evolved into one of the leading carriers in Africa. We offer the biggest route network in Africa and fly to more destinations, both overseas and within South Africa, than anyone else.


We are proud to be the national airline of South Africa, and are committed to the highest standards in everything we do. From our warm hospitality and luxury airport lounges to our in-flight menu created by renowned chefs, we deliver a world-class experience every time.



Airlink history

Airlink is a regional airline and privately owned business that operates as a franchisee of South African Airways (SAA). Airlink was placed on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Register in February 2008.


South African Airways
South African Airways

South African Airways mission

    We South African Airways are committed to providing seamless interline connections with our partner flights, linking smaller towns to major city hubs.

    We will work together with our alliance partners to realise our vision of an extensive network spanning many regional capitals, smaller communities and major centres.

We are determined to remain South Africa’s leading regional feeder airline, and aspire to be a role model in the industry.


 South African Airways fleet,


    Jetstream 41,

    Embraer 135,


    BAE146 RJ85,



 South African Airways destinations

Twenty-eight destinations in the SADC sub-region – offering more local destinations than any other airline.

Flights per month: 3500

SAA and the environment

SAA environmental statement

We can’t ignore our contribution to the greenhouse effect, or rewind the clock. The direct environmental impact of our activities comes from the CO2 emissions and noise generated by our air crafts.

It is our corporate responsibility to focus on what we can do to minimize our carbon footprint.

The result:

80% compliance for greener operations as stipulated by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Ongoing discussions with the Operations Committee and aviation partner, Air Transport Navigational Services, on how to ensure fuel and carbon efficiency.

South African Airways Building a

green future

    Our fleet is among the youngest and most fuel-efficient in the skies.

    Investment in new technology ensures greater environmental protection.


South African Express Airways;

South African Express Airways information


Since taking to the skies in April 1994, South African Express Airways has become one of the fastest growing regional airlines in Africa, and forms part of the trusted South African Airways (SAA) alliance.


South African Airways profile

A regional airline with route networks covering major local and regional cities.

South African Express Airways plays a significant role in the country’s hospitality, travel and tourism industry.

SA Express Airways has recently become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Department of Public Enterprise.

South African Airways Benefits

The SAA Alliance partnership entitles customers to Voyager benefits. Flight schedules are coordinated amongst SAA Alliance airlines in order to provide a seamless service.  This alliance also enables us to provide hassle-free services in areas such as ticketing, check-in facilities, mutual branding and flight codes.


South African Airways Awards

Awards won by  South African Airways

Customers are guaranteed first-rate service; the following awards are testament to the exceptional efforts of our staff:


    The International Star Quality Award ,

    Top 500 Best Managed Companies ,


South African Airways

Executive management

The organizational structure of SA Express reflects its determination to be the most successful regional airline, and its mission to provide the best customer service whilst also optimizing profits. The compact management structure ensures continued attention to strategic objectives.


SA Express leadership is both experienced and passionate. The management team is accommodating and approachable and has high expectations for all SA Express employees. Personal development is achieved through engagement at all levels and we encourage our staff to participate and integrate as much as possible. We are extremely proud of our diverse workforce.


    Inati Ntshanga – Chief Executive Officer,

    Sikhumbuzo Zulu – Chief Financial Officer,

    Jerome Simelane – General Manager: Commercial,

    Arson Malola-Phiri – Regional General Manager: African Expansion,

    Dave Allanby – General Manager: Operations,

    Ramon Vahed – General Manager: Technical Maintenance and Engineering,

    Wesley Hermanus - General Manager: Human Resources,

    Jenean Green- Chief Information Officer,


South African Airways

route network

SA Express caters for both business and leisure travellers by offering flights to most destinations within South Africa and services between Botswana, Namibia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Click here to see our route network.

South African Airways fleet

Our airline has expanded its fleet; the latest acquisitions include two Q400 turbo-prop aircraft. The 50-seat Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) and DeHavilland Dash 8-Series 300-turbo-prop aircraft are available on certain routes operated by the airline. These aircraft offer a new level of service with leather seating and superior design.


Short history of

South African Airways

Over 70 years of excellence and innovation have propelled South African Airways (SAA) to become Africa’s leading carrier. The following timeline features select highlights of our reputable history.


Brief history South African Airways

1930s history of South African Airways

The history of South African Airways dates back to 1 February 1934, when the South African government took over the assets and liabilities of Union Airways. The airline was renamed South African Airways (SAA), and fell under the control of the South African Railways and Harbour administration.

On 1 November 1934, SAA introduced Junkers Ju 52/3m, the first multi-engine aircraft, which was used on domestic flights. During the 30s, the airline steadily acquired more planes, including the first 10-seater Junkers Ju 86s, DC-3s, Constellation L-749As, Lockheed Lodestar, DC-7Bs Vickers Viscounts and the Boeing 707.

The outbreak of World War II resulted in SAA being divided into two wings: a defence wing controlled by the Department of Defence and a commercial wing controlled by the Administration. The entire fleet and 22% of its personnel were taken over by the Department of Defence.


     1940s history of South African Airways

On 24 May 1940, South African Airways became a military wing, and all commercial services were suspended until December 1944. The International Air Transport Association was founded in Havana in April 1945, and SAA became one of 44 active founding members,

SAA modernized in-flight service and entertainment by introducing air hostesses on domestic flights and a cinema on the direct service between Johannesburg and Cape Town.


1950s  history of South African Airways

The official opening of Jan Smuts International Airport was held in Kempton Park on 17 April 1952. The following year, SAA operated its first Comet Springbok service from London to Johannesburg using a BOAC Comet, and in the process became the first airline outside the UK to operate jet aircraft.

The SAA fleet continued to grow when the Minister of Transport announced his decision to order three Boeing Intercontinental jet aircraft for delivery in 1960.


1960s history of South African Airways

The 1960s brought a number of firsts. South African Airways extended its orange tail insignia across the entire fleet. In March 1967, we introduced our first weekly jet service between South Africa and Australia. The following year, we made an inaugural flight from Jan Smuts Airport to Rio de Janeiro using a Boeing 707.

1970s history of South African Airways

On 24 April 1976, South African Airways operated the world’s first commercial flight using a Boeing 747SP. The aircraft flew on the Johannesburg-Lisbon-Rome-Athens service,

The 70s welcomed new arrivals: our first Boeing 747B, ZS-SAN ‘Lebombo’ and Airbus ‘Blesbok’. At the same time, we sought to improve our traffic growth on domestic and regional routes by purchasing 12 Boeing 737s, three Boeing 747SPs and four Airbus A300s.

On 6 January 1977, the Boeing 747SP made its first scheduled flight between Johannesburg and Sydney. The flight offered in-flight audio entertainment and movies.

1980s history of South African Airways

In April 1981, South African Airways introduced a three-class service for an Australian flight: Blue Diamond First class, Gold class for Business passengers and Silver class for Economy class traveler.

Due to economic sanctions, flights to New York were suspended in November 1986. The USA withdrew from its landing rights in South Africa. The following year, the Australian government took the same action against South Africa.

1990s history of South African Airways

The 90s evoked a decade of positive change and renewed relationships. For the first time in 28 years, SAA flights operated via Sudan and Egypt. Economic sanctions against South Africa were lifted, and flights to New York and Australia resumed,

On 25 March 1994, South African Express Airways was granted a license to operate domestically, and South African Airways became a shareholder.

On board domestic flights, SAA introduced multi-lingual greetings in English, Zulu, Sotho and Afrikaans. On international flights, passengers were greeted in the relevant language of their destination.

SAA’s Cadet Pilot Training programme was launched to provide previously disadvantaged individuals an opportunity to become pilots. On 22 March 1997, SAA unveiled a new corporate identity with its aircraft tail designed to reflect the colours of South Africa’s new national flag: red, blue, gold, black and green.

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