By Chinelo Obogo
South African Airways (SAA) has concluded plans to resume the Johannesburg-Lagos route on December 12, the airline has confirmed. The airline has been flying to Nigeria for the past 23 years and the resumption of the service is a welcome addition to its growing continental offering.
The airline hasn’t operated any commercial flights since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. From that period until September 2020, the airline maintained cargo and repatriation flights but was forced to cease all operations due to financial problems.
After spending a period of 17 months in administration, SAA finally exited ‘business rescue‘ in April 2021, before the South African government agreed to sell its majority stake to Takatso Consortium in June.
In a statement, the interim CEO of South African Airways, Thomas Kgolo said: “This specific destination takes SAA into one of the biggest travel markets in Africa and we’re delighted that we are again able to resume operations, providing a link between Africa’s two biggest economies. Our intention is to continue to develop our route network driven by passenger demand and revenue potential. We are constantly evaluating opportunities, both locally, regionally, and internationally.
“After months of diligent work, we are delighted that SAA is resuming service and we look forward to welcoming on board our loyal passengers and flying the South African flag. We continue to be a safe carrier and adhere to COVID-19 protocols. There is a profound feeling of enthusiasm within Team SAA as we prepare for takeoff, with one common purpose -to rebuild and sustain a profitable airline that once again takes a leadership role among local, continental, and international airlines.”
He disclosed that would continue in partnership with South African Tourism to promote the country in Nigeria in the expectation that it would lead to more visitors now that international pandemic travel restrictions are being revised.
South African Airways had on September 23rd, 2021 resumed operations after a year of inactivity and almost 18 months without a commercial flight. The carrier initially offered flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town, Accra, Kinshasa, Harare, Lusaka, and Maputo. SAA has not flown any commercial flights since March 2020 and ceased all cargo and repatriation flights in September last year.