SA Airways relaunches Vic Falls route

Finance-strapped South Africa Airways says it has turned the corner and is ready to reclaim its position as one of the leading airlines in Southern Africa as it relaunched the Johannesburg-Victoria Falls route
on Wednesday.

It will be using an A319 for scheduled flights between the two cities.

The airline has had a history of leadership instability and has registered growing losses amounting to R26, 9 billion between 2007 and 2019.

SAA was placed under administration in December 2019 and exited the judicial management last year.

Covid-19 worsened SAA’s long-standing financial woes.

Its chief finance officer Fikile Mhlontlo on Wednesday told various stakeholders that the airline is back.

“We had been out for two reasons-Covid-19 and as an airline, we had run into financial difficulties but what is important is that today signals that we are back in business,” said Mhlontlo.

During its heydays, SAA commanded the biggest share of travellers into Victoria Falls and had introduced an airbus as volumes continued to sour before financial woes hit.

The airline is a flagship carrier for Victoria Falls as it connects travellers from Europe into OR Tambo before they connect to the resort city destination.

Mtlontlo said Victoria Falls and Zimbabwe in general are strategic destinations for the airline.

SAA resumed flights to Harare in September last year and had not started flying into Victoria Falls.

SA Airlink, Fastjet, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airways, MacAir and Air Zimbabwe are the other airlines flying into Victoria Falls.

“We are starting this route as part of our phase 2 as we are building up on those routes we have relaunched in phase 1 to ensure connectivity in Africa,” said Mhlontlo.

“SAA has gone through very difficult times but we have seen resilience and we are able to move forward.”

Zimbabwe Transport deputy minister Mike Madiro said SAA was a key player in connecting Victoria Falls to the region.

“We treat the introduction of air services by SAA as a seal of approval of our tourism destinations, as a bold endorsement of our government’s ease of doing business and promotion of investment policies,” said Madiro.

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