By Victor Shalton
South African Airways, Comair to Restart Ops in September
Having grounded most of its international fleet after being placed into administration in December 2019 with the onset of the pandemic only adding salt to injury, South African Airways is now eyeing return to the skies.
South Africa’s flag carrier plans to restart flights to several destinations in Africa starting September 23rd, restoring services after a major restructuring and the continued disruption of air travel caused by the COVID-19 impact.
The airline initially plans to begin flying from Johannesburg to Accra, Ghana; Cape Town; Harare, Zimbabwe; Kinshasa, Congo; Lusaka, Zambia and Maputo, Mozambique with more destinations to be added to the airline’s network as market conditions improve.
“After months of diligent work, we are delighted that SAA is resuming services and we look forward to welcoming on board our loyal passengers and flying the South African flag,” said interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo.
“There is a profound feeling of enthusiasm within team SAA as we prepare for Takeoff, with one common purpose – to rebuild and sustain a profitable airline that once again takes a leadership role among local, Continental and international airlines. The aviation sector is currently going through a testing period, and we are aware of the tough challenges that lie ahead in the coming week,” noted the chief executive as he expressed his optimism.
South African exited its business rescue proceedings towards the end of April, and it’s only this month that the airline obtained its AOC for both domestic and international services, signaling it’s only a matter of time before the carrier would take to the skies.
The airline will also begin services with an all-Airbus fleet comprising of two A319-100s, two A320-200s and one A330-300. All are leased aircraft, with the carrier’s signature aircraft, the A340-600s, also among the listed aircraft, totaling to a fleet of eight.
“The airline is restarting with a formidable business case,” said SAA chairman John Lamola.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s Comair, which operates both Kulula and British Airways Franchise (operated as Comair), will resume flights September 1 after suspending flights on July 5.
The airline operator was hit by the prohibition of all non essential travel in and out of Guateng Province due to adjusted level four travel restrictions.
The airline also said temporarily suspending services was the right call even as COVID-19 cases were at an alarming rate and the vaccination process gained momentum.
“it wasn’t an easy call make because of the impact on our customers and employees, but we’ve used the time well, innovating a new fare offering preparing for the restart and looking to reopen more routes such as Mauritius. Flying is what we do and we are eager to takeoff again and provide South African traveller with compelling products and competitive fares,” said Comair marketing executive Brian Kitchin.