South African Airways (SAA) plans to change its operations strategy for its international markets as it seeks to establish a dual hub model offering long-haul services from Johannesburg (JNB) and Cape Town (CPT) as it eyes the return of intercontinental flights. Before the health crisis, the airline had all its operations based at OR Tambo Airport (JNB).
“Cape Town has developed significantly as the second hub in southern Africa, and for us, it no longer makes sense to continue our pre-business rescue plan (BRP) of a hub and pandemic strategy. And our strategy also includes establishing centers in the north of our home,” said Tebogo Tsimane, acting head of SAA.
Tsimane told ch-aviation that after the restructuring process and the company’s current partial privatization process, SAA would re-enter intercontinental markets with caution. The South African airline recently announced a pan-African partnership with Kenya Airways, to expand its international operations.
The interim chief has yet to confirm which long-haul routes would return, though he did confirm that Hong Kong (HKG) was not part of the initial plans. Tsimane said that his initial plans to start his initial routes by March 2023 were as follows:
- From Cape Town (CPT): New York, United States (JFK), São Paulo, Brazil (GRU), and at least one Australian city (Sydney and/or Perth).
- From Johannesburg (JNB): Perth (PER) and Washington – Dulles (IAD) via Accra (ACC).
No plan has yet been shown to fly to Europe, before the pandemic SAA flew to Frankfurt (FRA), Munich (MUC), and London (LHR), where the company still has 14 slot pairs at Heathrow Airport (LHR).
On the aircraft fleet plan for intercontinental flights, Tsimane commented: “The restart plan, which is very conservative and in no way addresses the needs of the airline’s long-term fleet, is based on the familiar Airbus aircraft that our current crew flies and remains a provisional fleet.” The company will announce the right aircraft for its long-haul missions and long-term fleet plans in the future.
SAA’s fleet currently includes 3 Airbus A319, 2 Airbus A320ceo, 1 Airbus A330-300, and 1 Airbus A340-300.
SAA continues to make decisions regarding its privatization, as it hopes to soon have Takatso as a strategic partner, which is pending regulatory approval by the South African Competition Commission.
“The process for the Takatso Consortium to become SAA’s strategic equity partner with a 51% stake in the airline continues. Currently, the process is in the regulatory step of the Competition Commission,” said Tsimane.
Featured image: @aviator_nic/ Airspace Africa