After more than one year of inactivity, one of Africa’s biggest airlines, South African Airways (SAA) has concluded plans to resume the lucrative Johannesburg-Lagos route. The carrier plans to re-start the service on December 12. This has brought smiles to several numbers of the airline’s loyal customers who had had to travel through other connecting flights out of Lagos to Johannesburg and other destinations in Southern Africa.
The carrier’s addition of the Johannesburg-Lagos route is another important continental route to its network with a three-times a week flight to Lagos in Nigeria. SAA has been flying to Nigeria for the past 23 years and the resumption of the service is a welcome addition to its growing continental offering.
Biggest travel market
The interim CEO of South African Airways, Thomas Kgokolo in a statement said: “This specific destination takes SAA into one of the biggest travel markets in Africa and we’re delighted that we are again able to resume operations, providing a link between Africa’s two biggest economies.”
Kgokolo says the service is part of SAA’s gradual growth strategy, having resumed full operations in September. “Our intention is to continue to develop our route network driven by passenger demand and revenue potential. We are constantly evaluating opportunities, both locally, regionally, and internationally.”
He further stated that not only does the new Johannesburg-Lagos route function as a key economic link between the two countries but would also service the burgeoning tourism market in both countries.
Kgokolo disclosed that SAA would continue in partnership with South African Tourism to promote the country in Nigeria, in the expectation that it would lead to more visitors now that international pandemic travel restrictions are being revised.
SAA resumed services in September
South African Airways on September 23rd resumed operations after a year of inactivity and almost 18 months without a commercial flight. The carrier initially offers flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town, Accra, Kinshasa, Harare, Lusaka, and Maputo. Kgokolo said: “After months of diligent work, we are delighted that SAA is resuming service and we look forward to welcoming onboard our loyal passengers and flying the South African flag. We continue to be a safe carrier and adhere to COVID-19 protocols.”
SAA has not flown any commercial flights since March 2020 and ceased all cargo and repatriation flights in September last year. After spending a period of 17 months in administration, SAA finally exited ‘business rescue‘ in April 2021, before the South African government agreed to sell its majority stake to Takatso Consortium in June.
Tickets went on sale on August 26th and have sold well, according to the airline. According to Kgokolo, early figures indicate flights may be up to 75 percent full. Opening up other routes may prove to be a complication due to ongoing travel restrictions.
“There is a profound feeling of enthusiasm within Team SAA as we prepare for takeoff, with one common purpose -to rebuild and sustain a profitable airline that once again takes a leadership role among local, continental, and international airlines.”