South African Airways (SAA) plans to take to the skies again from 23 September this year, it said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.
Tickets will go on sale on 26 August 2021. Voyager bookings and Travel Credit Voucher redemption will be available from 6 September 2021.
"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 adhering to Covid-19 protocols," said interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo.
SAA will, as an initial phase, operate flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town, Accra, Kinshasa, Harare, Lusaka and Maputo. More destinations will be added to the route network as it ramps up operations in response to market conditions.
"There is a profound feeling of enthusiasm within Team SAA as we prepare for take-off, with one common purpose - to rebuild and sustain a profitable airline that once again takes a leadership role among local, continental, and international airlines. The aviation sector is currently going through a testing period, and we are aware of the tough challenges that lie ahead in the coming weeks," said Kgokolo.
The wait is finally over. In just under a month, the striking and familiar livery of SAA will once again be visible in the skies as the airline resumes operations. The carrier has confirmed the first flights will commence on Thursday, 23 of September 2021. #FlySAA pic.twitter.com/6fkmL5z6Ym— SAA - South Africa (@flysaa) August 25, 2021
In the view of SAA's board chair John Lamola, the national carrier is restarting with a formidable business case.
The statement did not indicate what the latest progress is with the due diligence process of SAA's chosen strategic equity partner, the Takatso consortium.
Two weeks ago SAA received two leased Airbus A320 passenger aircraft. The modern aircraft, which were among the planes SAA sent back to lessors during the business rescue process, were placed in storage and given six-year maintenance checks in Abu Dhabi during the airline's time in business rescue.
At the time, SAA told employees in an internal memo that the due diligence process with Takatso is gaining momentum and plans are well advanced for cargo and charter flights.
Last week the Department of Public Enterprises told Parliament that the due diligence of Takatso is at an advanced stage and should be completed "in the next week or so". The department said SAA is being prepared for the private sector to play a leading role in the entity and that should be commended.