On Thursday, 23 September 2021, South African Airways took to the skies – more than one year after it was grounded.South Africa’s national carrier, South African Airways (SAA), has announced that it has resumed flights after what has been a very difficult period for the airline. “This week is a proud and significant one for SAA and its staff as well as all South African citizens. Our journey back to the skies has not been easy and I pay tribute to our dedicated workforce in all areas of the business all of whom have and are putting in long hours ahead of this day. People in every facet of the business want nothing more than for SAA to succeed and for us to build a new airline based on safety and exemplary customer service,” commented Thomas Kgokolo, the airline’s interim CEO.
Challenging periodSAA had reportedly not turned over a profit since 2011, with its financial position said to have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. In April this year, the embattled airline exited its R10.3 billion business rescue plan, which it had been placed on since December 2019 when all flights and operations were grounded to prevent any further losses. Two months later, in June, it was agreed that the government-owned airline would sell a 51% stake to the Takatso Consortium. This is expected to inject $200 million (around R3 billion) into the local carrier.
Tshepo Mahloele, Harith General Partners’ co-founder and Takatso Consortium chair, believes the consortium can turn SAA into a thriving and profitable operation.“The partnership represents a robust, exciting South African-bred solution. Harith, as owners of Lanseria International Airport, has significant experience in the transport infrastructure and aviation sectors. We have deployed more than a billion dollars into a portfolio of critical infrastructure assets across the African continent that support regional economies.” Meanwhile, Mango, SAA’s budget airline, remains grounded.