South African Airways
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O.R. Tambo International Airport
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- Johannesburg Oliver R Tambo International Airport
- South Africa
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With hubs at Johannesburg and Cape Town, South African Airways (SAA) is the flag carrier of South Africa and ranks among the largest airlines on the African continent. The carrier is wholly-owned by the South African government and operates an extensive network of services throughout Africa and international services to North America, South America, Asia, Australia and Europe. SAA became a member of the Star Alliance in 2006.
Location of South African Airways main hub (Johannesburg Oliver R Tambo International Airport)
581 total articles
53 total articles
South African Airways (SAA) faces a pressing need to start moving forward with its new strategic plan, which includes pursuing expansion within Africa and cutting unprofitable long-haul destinations such as Buenos Aires. The new business plan, which was initially completed in Apr-2013, represents a critical step in finally fixing the long floundering carrier. But SAA has not yet implemented any major components of the plan although most of the pieces have secured the required layers of approval.
Under the new strategic plan, SAA will increase operations within Africa while cutting unprofitable long-haul routes and potentially hand more domestic routes to low-cost subsidiary Mango. SAA could also start operating alongside new partner Etihad on the Johannesburg-Abu Dhabi route, using the capacity freed up from axing highly unprofitable long-haul services, as it increases its reliance on partnerships to provide a stronger network beyond Africa.
The continued delays in implementing the long-term turnaround plan are costly as SAA continues to bleed. It needs to move quickly to build on its position in the intra-Africa market, with more flights from South Africa and a possible new base in West Africa, as competition within Africa is starting to intensify. SAA also needs to finally move forward in acquiring new widebody aircraft, which were identified in the plan as essential for a sustainable long-haul operation.
Zambia's booming economy increasingly reliant on Kenya and Ethiopian Airways. A flag carrier needed?
As southern Africa enjoys a commodities boom, Zambia, like its neighbour Zimbabwe lacks an international airline of its own, leaving the country reliant on a small number of foreign airlines to provide connections to tourism markets and trading partners. British Airways' decision to pull out of Zambia in Oct-2013 after 80 years of service is a considerable blow to European connections. BA will redeploy the capacity to Ghana where greater returns are in view following Virgin Atlantic's withdrawal.
Privately owned Proflight Zambia operates a domestic network in Zambia and the seemingly prudently run airline has regional expansion plans, but is unlikely to be able to extend its business beyond Africa in the foreseeable future.
Zambia’s Government has been attempting to negotiate a funding deal to relaunch a flag carrier to replace Zambia Airways, liquidated in 1995 after 31 years' operation. However, the unhappy history of African governments meddling in the affairs of their national carriers means private investors are reluctant to become involved. Meanwhile, Africa's hub carriers like Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airways are increasing service.
fastjet has reported a USD42 million net loss for the six months to 30-Jun-2013, but its directors remain upbeat about the fledgling African LCC’s prospects, with its Tanzanian domestic operations exceeding expectations and making a profit on an underlying route basis. But the directors acknowledge in the unaudited accounts that the carrier will need to raise further funds in the future “which represents a material uncertainty over going concern”.
fastjet’s ambition to establish Africa's first pan-African low-cost carrier is continuing to encounter strong headwinds. On its own admission, the Tanzanian market is too small to sustain the company and international expansion is critical to its longer term survival.
But the first international route from Dar es Salaam to Johannesburg has, perhaps predictably, run foul of South Africa’s bureaucrats forcing the eleventh hour postponement of the route launch by about two weeks to the middle of Oct-2013. fastjet will compete against South African Airways (SAA) as the only other operator on the route and has promised to reduce fares by 60%. fastjet is taking online bookings for flights departing from 18-Oct-2013.
FlySafair’s ambitions to launch services on South Africa’s biggest domestic route between Johannesburg and Cape Town from 17-Oct-2013 have been dealt a severe blow by a High Court interdict issued on 8-Oct-2013 restraining FlySafair from operating scheduled domestic passenger services pending a review of South Africa’s Air Service Licensing Council’s (ASLC) decision to grant the carrier a licence to operate.
The interim injunction has stalled, temporarily at least, a looming battle in the South African domestic market into which FlySafair and fellow LCC start-up SkyWise are planning to launch, ending a brief period where the South African Airways and Comair groups enjoyed a duopoly following the demise of LCC 1time in Nov-2012.
Comair, which operates as LCC Kulula, and the full service British Airways franchise combined forces with would-be competitor SkyWise to block FlySafair’s launch by challenging the ASLC’s decision. Comair and SkyWise claim that FlySafair does not meet South Africa’s maximum 25% foreign ownership limit to operate domestic services and that one of its directors is not a resident of South Africa.
Africa’s unenviable record of government interference in the continent’s aviation system is demonstrated by no less than nine carriers currently surviving at the behest of their respective governments through a variety of financial support mechanisms collectively worth about USD2.5 billion.
In most cases this support serves only to distort any prospect of a level playing field, preventing privately owned carriers from competing effectively. Nigeria is even taking this a stage further as state support of private carriers is being undermined by a desire to relaunch a government owned national flag carrier. In other cases, such as Uganda, new state-owned airlines are planned to compete with successful privately owned operators in markets that often lack sufficient demand to support them both. Whatever the motives, and many of them are questionable at best, the outcome is sadly predictable.
In most cases Africa’s national carriers suffer at the hands of government mismanagement and interference, key among them is the continent’s largest airline, South African Airways (SAA) which is the subject of the biggest turnaround plan currently under way. This could offer a vital precedent if it succeeds - and if it doesn't.
South Africa’s SA Express has reported a net profit of ZAR650,000 (USD65,000) for the 2013 financial year, turning around a restated loss of ZAR365.9 million (USD36.7 million) in FY2012 driven by increased revenue and stable operating costs.
The result marks a return to profitability as the state-owned carrier and member of the South African Airways Group looks to expand its regional network over the next six months and strengthen its feeder support role for South African Airways as well as implement a fleet replacement programme to further reduce costs.
SA Express also reported a 91% reduction in its operating loss to ZAR25.1 million (USD2.5 million) in FY2013. SA Express CEO Inati Ntshanga said: "Though the business is making the right decisions and heading in the right direction, we cannot afford to be complacent as a lot still needs to be done to ensure that we champion a sustainable operational and financial performance."
While selected details of the financial results were presented at the airline’s AGM on 25-Sep-2013, neither the full audited accounts nor the annual report have been made public.
South African Airways Fleet Summary: as at 1-Dec-2013
|Aircraft||In Service||In Storage||On Order*|
South African Airways projected delivery dates for aircraft purchased from OEMs and leased from lessors new aircraft order pipelines as at 2-Dec-2013
South African Airways fleet as at 1-Dec-2013
South African Airways fleet breakdown for aircraft as at 1-Dec-2013
South African Airways average fleet age
South African Airways owned vs leased for aircraft (at 2-Dec-2013)
Most popular aircraft types
South African Airways seats per aircraft
South African Airways average sector length (2-Dec-2013 to 8-Dec-2013)
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