SAA says it's taking baby steps to expand capacity after flights resume

A plane took off from OR Tambo International Airport to Cape Town on Thursday morning, the first flight for the state-owned entity in over a year due to its financial troubles and COVID-19 lockdown restrictions which had kept it grounded since last year.

SAA aircraft. Picture: @flysaa_care/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - South African Airways (SAA) has acknowledged that while their aircraft were now back in the skies after more than a year, it would be “baby steps” and hard work to expand the airline's capacity and build customer confidence.

A plane took off from OR Tambo International Airport to Cape Town on Thursday morning, the first flight for the state-owned entity in over a year due to its financial troubles and COVID-19 lockdown restrictions which had kept it grounded since last year.

The fleet has been scaled down significantly, with staff capacity at a quarter of what it used to be.

The airline said that it was now all up to the demand from customers.

From operating about 64 aircraft to now only having 14 in their fleet, SAA’s chief pilot, Mpho Mamashela, said that while the airline was grounded they had to let go some of their lease agreements on some of the aircraft, leaving them with a significantly smaller fleet.

"Some of those aircraft are old and they need to be replaced because their fuel consumption is much higher, so there is a need for more fuel-efficient aircraft in the future," Mamashela said.

For now, they are only focusing on the start-up routes, like Johannesburg to Cape Town, to ensure it is efficient and profitable before expanding.

From Monday, SAA will be opening its routes to Harare, Lusaka, Maputo and Accra.

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