South African Airways will commence operations on September 23, nearly 18 months after suspending commercial activities in March 2020 after several years of financial difficulties.
The carrier will begin selling tickets on August 26, with frequent flyer points and travel credit vouchers able to be redeemed starting on September 6. The initial phase of SAA’s resurrection will be limited to flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town, Accra, Kinshasa, Harare, Lusaka and Maputo, with more destinations to follow.
Interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo attributed SAA’s return to “months of diligent work” following the carrier’s December 2019 entrance into a bankruptcy protection program under which it received several billion rand in financing from private lenders and the South African government. As part of the bankruptcy, SAA cut a number of international routes in February 2020, before fully suspending operations the following month.
Initially slated to last only two weeks, the corporate shutdown will have dragged on for nearly a year and a half by the time SAA takes to the skies again next month.
Kgokolo acknowledged the challenges of resuming service amid the lingering Covid-19 pandemic, with the global spread of the delta variant of the virus driving new uncertainty for international air travel.
“The aviation sector is currently undergoing a testing period, and we are aware of the tough challenges that lie ahead in the coming weeks,” said Kgokolo, who stressed that SAA is adhering to all Covid-19-related hygiene and cleanliness protocols as it resumes operations.