South African Airways (www.flysaa.com) is the flag carrier airline of South Africa. Find out more about this leading African airline here, or book your own SAA flights online now.
Booking SAA Flights Online
Booking flights aboard South African Airways is simple, thanks to FLYAirlines. Use the above flight search engine to instantly compare South African Airways airfares against those of a range of local and international airlines flying to from and within SAA. Simply enter your departure location, destination and preferred travel dates into the search fields to get started.
Our state of the art system will locate the cheapest fares and the fastest routings for you. Best of all, you can book flights online 24/7, 365 – so be your own travel agent and save more!
Offline Reservations Enquiries
If you’re not quite comfortable booking your own flights online, you can also speak to a seasoned travel agent by calling (021) 468 4300 or 0861 878 278 within office hours.
Airline History and Corporate Information
Headquartered in Airways Park at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, the airline flies to over 40 local, regional and international destinations. Boasting a fleet of over 50 aircraft and serving the biggest number of destinations, South African Airways is Africa’s leading airline. By 2016, the airline employed over 8,500 full time staff members across its local and international operations.
The airline is wholly owned by the South African Government, and flies under the slogan “Bringing the world to Africa and taking Africa to the world.”
Founded in February 1934, South African Airways was formed when the SA Government acquired Union Airways. At over 80 years old the airline is Africa’s top airline, and one of South Africa’s premium export brands. During its initial years of operation, the airline was also formally known by its Afrikaans name, Suid-Afrikaanse Lugdiens, or SAL for short.
During 2002, South African Airways made a successful bid for a 49% stake in Air Tanzania. This was SAA’s first significant investment in a foreign airline, reflecting the airline’s East African expansion ambitions. The merger failed by 2006, when it was judged to be fruitless by SAA’s new management team.
The airline joined the Star Alliance during 2004, and in 2005 became the first non-Saudi airline operate a direct Hadj service to Medina in Saudi Arabia.
By 2005, the airline had launched a four-times-weekly service on the Johannesburg – Accra – Washington DC route using the Boeing 747-400.
During 2006, the airline terminated its codeshare agreement with Delta Airlines because of the two airlines memberships in two rivalling airline alliances (being SkyTeam and the Star Alliance).
Partnerships and Subsidiaries
As of the beginning of 2017, South African Airways counts Mango Airlines, South African Express, SAA City Centre (soc) Limited, SAA Technical, SA Airlink Air Chefs as well as SAA Cargo among its subsidiaries.
A combination of industry challenges and poor fiscal and operational management has seen the airline record successive losses during the past decade. During the 2012/ 2013 financial year, the airline reported an operating loss (EBITDA) of R374 million.
During the 2014/2015 fiscal year, this loss had grown to a whopping R4.67 billion. The Democratic Alliance, South Africa’s largest opposition party, blamed controversially reappointed SAA Chairperson Dudu Myeni for the “massive losses”.
By the end of 2016, it was clear that the airline would require additional government bail-outs to stay afloat, with the airline becoming “technically bankrupt”. Government had approved a R5 billion loan guarantee for the embattled airline, but undertook to rigorously scrutinize board performance going forward.
To access the airline’s annual financial reports, click here.
The 2017 Fleet
As of the end of 2016, the airline’s fleet of 56 aircraft consisted of a mix of 4 Airbus A330-300s, 6 Airbus A330-200s, 8 Airbus A319-100s, 8 Airbus A340-300s, 9 Airbus A340-600s, as well as 7 Boeing 737-800s.
The airline has been no stranger to controversy.
In 2006, several of its airline staff were implicated in an international drug smuggling operation.
The year 2007 saw two managers and one former manager accused of attempted rape and sexual harassment.
In the years to follow, the airline’s successive financial losses, controversial leadership hires and continual mismanagement earned the airline a steady stream of poor publicity.
In 2014, controversial SAA Chair Dudu Myeni investigate the sitting CEO, Monwabisi Kalawe, over four allegations, including defrauding SAA passengers.
The year 2015 saw Myeni propose a new aircraft acquisition deal that would cost the SA Government a whopping R1.5 billion – with key middleman beneficiaries not disclosed.
Livery, Branding and Advertising
During 1997, the airline revamped its image completely, dropping the by then famous flying springbok emblem and old national colours of orange, white and blue. The new livery reflected the new South African flag’s and a sun motif. The Afrikaans naming convention, SAL, was also dropped during this time.
During the same year, the airline introduced online ticketing and formed an alliance with SA Airline and SA Express, its now subsidiary airlines.
As of the end of 2016, South African Airways has codeshare agreements in place with Air China, FlyMango, Emirates, Jet Airways, Etihad Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Lufthansa, LATAM, RwandAir, United Airlines, Singapore Airlines, TAP Portugal and Air Canada, to name but a few. Additional local and regional codeshare partners include Air Seychelles, EgyptAir, LAM Mozambique as well as SA Express.
South African Airways complies with all standard international safety standards for maintenance and safety procedures. The airline’s last plane crash occurred in November 1987, when Flight SA 295, a Boeing 747-200B Combi named the Helderberg crashed over the Indian Ocean en route from Taipei to Johannesburg via Mauritius.
Key Figures and Executive Management 2017
At the time of writing, being May 2017, Mr Musa Zwane is serving as Acting SAA Group CEO, supported by MS Ruth Kubuuka (Company Secretary), Mr Josua du Plessis (Acting Chief of Strategy) and Ms Zuks Ramasia (GM: Operations). As of 1 May, acting CFO Phumeza Nhantsi has been appointed permanently as the airline’s new Chief Financial Officer. Nhantsi has been performing this role within the company since the departure of Wolf Meyer in November 2015.
Potential Merger 2017
By the end of 2016, the poor financial performance registered by SAA and SA Express, in particular, compelled Government to consider a potential merger between these two airlines with a view to leverage cost structures and optimize management efficiencies. By the second quarter of 2017, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba confirmed that the viability assessment pertaining to the potential merger was already in advanced stages.
Within South Africa’s borders, South African Airways and its subsidiaries face competition from FlySafAir, Com Air and Kulula.com. Internationally, the airline is up against both regional and international airlines such as British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa, Air France, Kenya Airways and LATAM.
The following section includes everything you need to know about South African Airways as a passenger:
Key Flight Routes & Destinations
As of 2017, South African Airways will be flying to regional destinations such as Accra, Abijan, Blantyre, Brazzaville, Dar es Salaam, Douala, Harare, Kigali, Kinshasa, Lagos, Lilongwe, Livingstone, Luanda, Lusaka, Mauritius, Maputo, Nairobi, Victoria Falls and Windhoek, to name but a few popular destinations. Local, the airline frequently flies to PE, Cape Town Johannesburg and Durban. Internationally, the airline flies to Hong Kong, Beijing, Entebbe, Frankfurt, Perth, New York and Washington DC.
South African Airways offers passengers the choice between a Business Class Cabin and an Economy Class Cabin. The Business Class experience is bound to be unforgettable, whether it is your first business class flight, or whether you’re a seasoned business traveler.
The exquisite a la carte menu features the finest South African produce, and has earned the airline a reputation of offering a high class dining experience. The sleeping experience has earned the airline a 5-star sleep rating from Skytrax, with fully flat beds ensuring that you arrive at your destination well rested.
The Economy Class cabin offers ample legroom, with handy complimentary amenity kits included as standard.
The following covers SAA’s typical standard free baggage allowance, however it is advised that you check your exact luggage allocation upon booking.
Economy Class baggage allowance: Economy Class passengers are entitled to one piece of checked luggage not exceeding 23kg in weight, as well as one piece of sports equipment not exceeding 23kg in weight.
Business Class baggage allowance: Business Class travellers are allowed to carry two pieces of luggage not exceeding 32kg each, as well as one piece of sporting equipment not exceeding 23kg in weight.
Any piece of standard checked baggage may not exceed the following dimensions: 158cm (width + depth + height).
Online Check Ins
Passengers can check in online on both desktop and mobile devices from 24 hours ahead of departure. Doing so will reduce the amount of time you spend in queues at the airport. You can also check in at any of the airport’s self-service check in kiosks upon arrival. To check in online for your next SAA flight, click here now.
The airline’s frequent flyer loyalty programme is known as SAA Voyager, and enables you to earn miles every time you fly with SAA or any of its alliance partners. The programme offers 5 tiers – Lifetime Platinum, Platinum, Gold, Silver and Blue – and offers varying level of benefits depending on how frequently you fly.
Step-Up Flight Class Upgrades
A few years ago, the airline launched an innovative online bidding based system, enabling you to place bids on upgrading your flights from Economy to Business Class. You can determine how much a seat upgrade is worth to you, and if you submit the highest bid, you’ll be upgraded to Business Class. The airline will advise you on whether your bid was successful 24 hours ahead of departure.
Online Flight Tracker
To track the progress and position of any SAA flight online, click here.
Booking Flights Online
To book your own cheap South African Airways flights online, simply fill in the above flight search form to compare airfares and book online within minutes, 24/7, 365.
To book with the airline directly, visit www.flysaa.com – NOT www.flysaa.co.za or saa.co.za.
Booking online ahead of time can help you secure the cheapest SAA fares available. It is recommended that you buy a cheap flight the minute you spot it, as seating inventory is limited and sells out fast. Also keep an eye on our site for the latest SAA specials and deals in 2017, or for more information visit www.flysaa.com – not www.saa.com.
South African Airways in-flight entertainment system is packed with over 100 movies, 100 TV features as well as 170 music albums, 14 radio channels and 15 interactive games to choose from. Aboard the A330 aircraft, Business Class travellers get to enjoy 12 inch high definition touch screens, while the Economy Class cabin is equipped with 10 inch screens situated in the back of the seat in front of you.
Contact South African Airways directly
South African Airways Reservations
Tel: +27 11 978 1111 or 0861 606 606 (ShareCall in SA only)
Office Hours: 06:00 to 22:00 (GMT) Daily. The airline can be contacted on weekends and on South African Public Holidays.
SAA Customer Services
Tel: +27 11 978 2888 or 0860 003 146 (ShareCall in SA only)
Office Hours: 08:00 – 16:30 (GMT) Daily. The Customer Services Centre is closed on weekends and South African Public Holidays
SAA Voyager Contact Details
Tel: +27 11 978 1234
Office Hours: 07:00 to 21:00 (GMT) Daily, including Saturdays, Sundays and South African Public Holidays (08:00 – 14:00)
South African Airways Baggage Services
Tel: +27 11 978 3733
Office Hours: 06:00 to 19h00 (GMT) Daily. The airline’s Baggage Services is open on weekends and South African Public Holidays.
SAA Refunds Department
Tel: +27 11 978 1786
Office Hours: 08:00 to 16:30 (GMT) during the week. The airline’s Refunds Department is closed on weekends and South African Public Holidays.
Tel: +27 11 978 3366
Office Hours: 08:00 to 19:00 (GMT) during weekdays, and 07:00 to 13:00 on Saturdays and Sundays. The Cargo Offices are closed South African Public Holidays.
FlySAA.com Website Queries
South African Airways Official Website
Web: www.flysaa.com – NOT www.saa.co.za or www.southafricanairways.com