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South African Airways Relaunches Australia Route

The new route will be the carrier's last network addition for the near future.

A South African Airways A340 pushing back at Washington Dulles International Airport (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ben Suskind)

South African Airways (SAA) has resumed scheduled flights between Johannesburg, South Africa and Perth, Australia.

The restart of this route is an important milestone for the restructured airline which emerged from business administration in 2021, and has cautiously been rebuilding its route network.

The airline recommenced its Perth service on Sunday, April 28, after a four-year absence of flight operations on the route. This route is an important one for the airline as well as for large South African expat communities that live in Perth.

South African Airways to Perth

The first reinstated flight, SA 280, operated by an Airbus A340-300 aircraft, took off from Johannesburg on Sunday, April 28 at 21:26 local time. While the route was operated daily in 2019, SAA will only offer three weekly flights to Perth at this stage.

Initially, the airline is using an older Airbus A340 aircraft to operate the service. However, there are plans to introduce another aircraft on the route. The carrier is in the process of securing additional aircraft. SAA intends to deploy a more fuel-efficient Airbus A330-300 on the route in the future. 

Rebuilding the Route Network

The Perth route is the second relaunched intercontinental route for South African Airways. Last year, the airline resumed flights to Sao Paulo in Brazil, from both Johannesburg and Cape Town.

The reopening of the Perth route aids in the execution of SAA’s southern hemisphere air connectivity strategy. The airline now connects key destinations on three continents: Australia, Southern Africa, and South America. This opens up improved connectivity for travellers needing to reach any of these locations.

Further Route Expansion Delayed

The restarted Perth flight is the last new route the airline is likely to launch in the mid-term.

The collapse of prolonged discussions with proposed equity stakeholder Takatso Consortium has meant that South African Airways will not receive a capital injection of 3.5 billion South African Rand. This impacts the airline as it will not be able to rebuild its route network as quickly as it hoped.

The chair of SAA’s Interim Board of Directors Derek Hanekom previously said that the carrier will not see further route expansion after the relaunch of the Perth flight. Hanekom said that no additional new routes would be launched for a couple of years, without capital injection from an equity partner or loans from capital markets.

Restart of Nonstop Services

The absence of direct flights between Perth and South Africa has often meant inconvenient and even costly journeys for many passengers. Many have had to travel via Sydney – with Qantas, or Singapore – with Singapore Airlines.

Some travelers also opted for connecting flights with carriers operating via the Middle East. These flights often work out cheaper than the more convenient options offered by Qantas and Singapore Airlines.

South African Airways is the only airline currently operating nonstop flights between Johannesburg and Perth so the airline stands to benefit by having no competition from other carriers at this point. It appears that the route is also off to a good start. Hanekom said that passenger numbers on SAA’s flights to Perth were “looking good.”

South African Airways operates a compact route network comprising 14 destinations. The carrier currently operates flights on domestic routes including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, and Port Elizabeth in South Africa. Regionally, SAA flies to Windhoek, Namibia; Harare and Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe; Lusaka, Zambia; Mauritius; Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire; Accra, Ghana; and Lagos, Nigeria. The airline offers flights on two intercontinental routes including Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Perth, Australia.

Lorne Philipot

Author

  • Lorne Philipot

    Lorne is a South Africa-based aviation journalist. He was captivated and fascinated by flying from the day he took his first airline flight. With a passion for aviation in his blood, he has flown to destinations in all corners of the globe. Lorne has traveled extensively and lived in various countries. Drawing on his travels and passion for aviation, Lorne enjoys writing about airlines, routes, networks, and new developments.

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