The once proud South African Airways is currently experiencing a kind of rebirth. Due to chronic deficits and massive corruption among executives, it was on the brink of the abyss several
times. Now, then, the stunning resurgence of the carrier, induced by two decisive factors.
The first reason bears a date: June 2021, when it was decided to partially privatize the former state-owned airline. With the Takatso Consortium comprising Pan-African investor Harith General
Partners and aviation group Global Aviation, a strategic equity partner took over 51% of the shares. The state, represented by the Department of Public Enterprises, retained 49% of the capital.
This channeled fresh money into the empty coffers.
The second reason is based on a decision by the South African Air Services Council (ASLC). The Regulator decided surprisingly that the South African flag carrier be allowed to retain its traffic rights to all of its historical routes after the airline voluntarily had sharply reduced is route network.
Return of unused licenses announced
Asked by the media for the main reasons of the resurrection, Chief Executive Officer John Lamola said: “SAA, as a buoyant national airline, has an important enabling role in the South African economy. Those routes and frequency licenses that are not part of SAA’s medium-term plans will progressively be released to the International Air Services Licensing Act for the benefit of the industry.”
The ASLC is part of South Africa’s Department of Transport, and is mandated under the International Air Services Licensing Act, which regulates and controls international air services in the country.
Eying intercontinental flights?
Mr. Lamola’s statement triggered speculations that the carrier is eyeing services to core intercontinental routes. This might include flights to Washington DC, New York, Frankfurt, Perth, and London. These routes were never canceled by the regulatory body although SAA had stopped servicing them.
On the pan African level SAA plans to commence flying to Windhoek in Namibia, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, along with Blantyre and Lilongwe in Malawi. Further to this, frequencies on existing routes will be increased, conformed the carrier. These flights to Accra in Ghana, Cape Town, Durban, Harare in Zimbabwe, Lusaka in Zambia, Mauritius, and Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Are KQ and SA pacting?
Exactly a year ago, Kenya Airways and South African Airways had inked a new strategic partnership framework. According to the deal, they intend to build a Pan-African Airline Group by 2023, this way challenging market leader Ethiopian Airlines mid-term. Their joint objective is to grow both passenger and cargo traffic, this way improving the financial viability of the two airlines.
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