South African Airways heads back to Durban. Image: GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP

SAA latest: Durban back on the radar

South African Airways (SAA) has resumed scheduled flights between Johannesburg and Durban after a two-year hiatus.


South African Airways heads back to Durban. Image: GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP

The first flight from Johannesburg to Durban departed on Friday 4 March, marking the relaunch of South African Airways’ second domestic route since returning to the skies in September 2021.

The national carrier resumed operations in September last year after identifying a strategic equity partner, Takatso Consortium, which owns 51% of South African Airways. 

SAA’s wings have been clipped for nearly the past two years due to a lengthy business rescue process as well as the global Covid-19 pandemic, which halted air travel across the globe.

With a much smaller fleet, SAA has been operating a thinned-down route network, flying to a few regional destinations including Accra, Kinshasa, Harare, Lusaka, Lagos, and Mauritius. 


The relaunch of the Johannesburg-Durban route is SAA’s second internal route within South Africa after more than five months of operations. The airline operated only one domestic route, flying between Johannesburg and Cape Town since it restarted flights in September.  

SAA’s flight SA 531 received a water cannon salute on its arrival at King Shaka International Airport after the airline’s absence of 24 months from Durban.

“The short-haul route between Johannesburg and Durban is one of the busiest in South Africa, and our customers and partners have been asking us to fly this route since we took to the skies again in September 2021,” SAA’s Interim Chief Executive Officer Thomas Kgokolo said, quoted in Business Insider.


SAA is the third major airline, alongside Airlink and British Airways (operated by Comair) to offer full-service flights on the Durban route. While SAA may not offer the cheapest fares to Durban, passengers flying with SAA will benefit from inclusions such as checked baggage and inflight catering as part of the fare.

The resumption of Durban flights is good news for SAA Voyager members who now have another domestic route to redeem their miles against. Long-haul overseas routes are not on the cards for the national airline at this time.