South African Airways will resume service on Sept. 23,
nearly 18 months after suspending commercial operations in March 2020 after
several years of financial difficulties. The carrier will begin selling tickets
on Aug. 26, with frequent flyer points and travel credit vouchers able to be
redeemed starting on Sept. 6. The initial phase of SAA's resurrection will be
limited to flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town, Accra, Kinshasa, Harare,
Lusaka and Maputo, with more destinations to follow.
Interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo credited SAA's return to
"months of diligent work" following the carrier's December 2019 entrance
into a bankruptcy protection program under which it received several billion
rand in financing
from private lenders and the South African government. As part of the
bankruptcy, SAA cut a number of international
routes in February 2020, before fully suspending
operations the following month.
Initially slated to last only two weeks, the corporate shutdown
will have dragged on for nearly a year and a half by the time SAA takes to the
skies again next month.
Kgokolo acknowledged the challenges of resuming service amid
the lingering Covid-19 pandemic, with the global spread of the delta variant of
the virus driving new uncertainty
for international air travel.
"The aviation sector is currently undergoing a testing
period, and we are aware of the tough challenges that lie ahead in the coming
weeks," said Kgokolo, who emphasized that SAA is adhering to all
Covid-19-related hygiene and cleanliness protocols as it resumes operations.