SAA relaunches first non-stop SA to Brazil flight after recovery

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The Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has assured taxpayers that their money will not be used to bail out South African Airways in the future.

Despite the airline receiving bailouts totaling R40 billion over a decade, it was placed under business rescue in 2019.

Gordhan says SAA has a bright future if its expansion is managed properly and the deal with the strategic equity partner is finalised.

This comes as the airline relaunches its first direct flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town to Brazil after its recovery.

Gordhan says the deal is expected to be finalised either by the end of this year or early next year. “That will have a lot more muscle, a lot more money available for SAA, available to SAA to expand and will multiply its capacity to take South Africans out of South Africa and also bring in tourists into South Africa from all parts of the world as it once did – but this time, in a sustainable way.”

The first non-stop flight from the Cape Town International Airport took off on Tuesday afternoon amid much fanfare.

The airline’s management says it chose this route because it will be profitable and sustainable.

A major milestone for SAA as it’s returning to trans-international skies after undergoing a business rescue process. The airline says it had to choose strong routes that will be able to withstand the current economic conditions.

SAA’s Chief Commercial Officer, Tebogo Tsimane says, “There’s definitely a huge demand between South Africa and not just Brazil but South Africa and South America but also there is demand from other areas of the continent in Southern Africa in East Africa and in West Africa and even in the east even though we aren’t flying there.”

SAA will fly four times a week to Sao Paulo with options from Cape Town and Johannesburg.

For the travellers the non-stop nine-hour flight has come in handy and is economical. “Very excited that I don’t have to go anywhere else to actually board and to do land over, very excited to meet people on that side… We can’t wait.”

“I’m excited because I get to sleep just for a little while on the plane and then when I open my eyes I will be there.”

It was also an exciting moment for crew members, looking forward to serving the patrons on the aircraft.

The airline says that previously the route was profitable with an average growth of 26% per year between 2015 and 2019.

SAA management anticipates that this is the beginning of more good things to come after undergoing financial turbulence.