South African Airways

Audit-General finds financial irregularities at South African Airways. Image: File

South African Airways: Building back better!

South African Airways is on a growth trajectory. It is gradually building back, raising hopes for a better national carrier in the future.

South African Airways

Audit-General finds financial irregularities at South African Airways. Image: File

SA’s state-owned airline South African Airways (SAA) made a commitment to doing things differently, and to building back better when it relaunched in 2021.     


Operating an airline is no easy task. There are several crucial aspects to running an efficient and profitable airline.  

This includes flying the right routes, operating an appropriate fleet and recruiting the best people.

As it scales up, South African Airways appears to be looking after these key aspects as it ramps up operations.    

ALSO READ: SAA set to launch two new routes: See them here!


Last month SA’s flag carrier reached its two-year milestone since restarting scheduled flights.

Since emerging from business rescue and resuming operations in September 2021, South African Airways has pursued a cautious but gradual growth strategy in its attempt to become self-sufficient and less dependent on the national purse.


Mindful of not becoming a strain on state funds, the airline has taken time to rebuild its flight schedule and route network.

As well as its domestic flights between Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, the airline also flies to 10 African destinations.

It operates flights to regional destinations including: Accra (Ghana), Blantyre (Malawi), Harare (Zimbabwe), Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Lagos (Nigeria), Lilongwe (Malawi), Lusaka (Zambia), Mauritius, Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) and Windhoek (Namibia).

SAA will restart intercontinental flights this month when it relaunches flights between SA and Sao Paulo in Brazil.

It is also due to start flying to another African destination next month, with a recently acquired Airbus A330.

ALSO READ: Finally! SAA sets date for restart of intercontinental flights


Having appropriate aircraft to service the routes in an airline’s flight network is key to meeting supply and demand – and for profitability.      

SAA currently has a fleet of five Airbus A320s, two Airbus A330s, and an Airbus A340.

The recently acquired Airbus A330 aircraft will operate flights to Abidjan from 14 November.   

ALSO READ: South African Airways ramps up domestic flights


Having the right people in key positions is essential for any organisation. South African Airways has some key people in key positions. The airline has utilised the expertise of influential individuals in rebuilding the company.

The restarted airline has benefited from a wealth of knowledge from individuals like Simon Newton-Smith, a veteran in the airline industry, with considerable experience and a successful career at several major airlines.

Earlier this year the company recruited former Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom as its interim chairperson. Hanekom has a wealth of knowledge and experience from serving in SA’s tourism sector.


Another veteran in the South African airline landscape, Carla da Silva, will join SAA as General Manager for Sales, Marketing, e-Commerce and Distribution, from 1 November. Da Silva brings vast knowledge and experience to the airline.  

She has worked for several carriers since 1995, according to Travel News. These include SAA, KLM / Air France, and Air Mauritius. Da Silva has held various positions ranging from Key Account Manager, Head of Global Sales & Distribution to Regional Manager.

Da Silva leaves the independently owned airline Airlink, where she has served as Executive Manager of Sales & Marketing since 2021.

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