South African Airways (SAA) announced on Sunday that it will launch direct flights between Johannesburg and Guangzhou, China, on September 18, 2019, giving customers access to the heart of China’s export led manufacturing industries.
According to a statement by SAA, this is yet another strategy implementation initiative aimed at enhancing its route network.
"The decision to launch this direct service between Johannesburg and Guangzhou means we remain on track in executing our strategy to transform SAA into a fit for the future airline that will operate both efficiently and competitively,” commented SAA CEO Vuyani Jarana.
The Guangzhou route will cater for a spectrum of travellers between Johannesburg and China including business and corporate travellers and will be of special interest to traders. Cargo operations will complement the viability of this route considering that high value cargo is sourced from Guangzhou.
SAA will be the only carrier operating a direct service between Johannesburg and Guangzhou, with flight time of approximately 13 hours and 40 minutes, providing the shortest travel time on a nonstop basis between the two points.
There will be three new flights per week to Guangzhou, in South China, and these will complement SAA's current operations to Hong Kong. This means, SAA will fly four times a week to Hong Kong. Airbus A340-300 aircraft will operate both the Guangzhou and Hong Kong routes.
Guangzhou is the largest city in the Guangdong province in South China and the third largest Chinese city after Beijing and Shanghai. It is an important transportation hub and trading port, located on the Pearl River about 120km Northwest of Hong Kong.
"Adding a direct service to mainland China, combined with our current popular flights to Hong Kong provides SAA with immense growth opportunities to and from mainland China. It also gives our traders access to the centre of Chinese manufacturing," said Jarana.
The province of Guangdong is the centre of China’s export led manufacturing industries and described as "the world’s manufacturing hub". Formal and informal traders source the majority of goods purchased in Sub-Saharan Africa from the province, due to Africa’s poor manufacturing capacity.
For more travel options for SAA customers flying to and from Guangzhou, the airline has interline agreements with China Southern Airlines, China Eastern, Air China and Hainan Airlines.
SAA said it is also negotiating a code share agreement with Hong Kong Airlines, anticipated to be in place this financial year, for further travel options for customers travelling beyond Hong Kong. Hong Kong airlines will codeshare on SAA’s Hong Kong-Johannesburg sector and provide feeder traffic from Japan, Korea, Philippines and China.