We intend to be the airline that people want to have - SAA chief pilot Mamashela

SAA’s first flight from OR Tambo Airport took off on Thursday morning to Cape Town and while the airline is keeping their routes limited for now, they are hoping to expand gradually to ensure profitability again – depending on the demand.

Picture: pegleg01/123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG - It’s South African Airways (SAA)'s first day back in the skies after more than a year of grounding and the chief pilot at the airline, Mpho Mamashela, said that government would have to consider getting more fuel-efficient aircraft in its fleet.

With South Africa in the tight economic squeeze of COVID-19 lockdowns and corruption, there is public criticism about government’s expenditure on the state-owned airline.

SAA’s first flight from OR Tambo Airport took off on Thursday morning to Cape Town and while the airline is keeping their routes limited for now, they are hoping to expand gradually to ensure profitability again – depending on the demand.

"Everything we do, it’s a lot of hard work. As you know there were a lot of people that were against government spending money on SAA, so you need to convince people that this is the right thing to do," Mamashela said.

Mamashela is hopeful that customer confidence and South Africans’ trust in the brand will push them into profitability again, although for now, they are starting small.

Starting off with 14 aircraft, about 1,000 staff, which include 88 pilots, SAA is hoping to build on the momentum and expand its network capacity.

But Mamashela and his colleagues know that hard work lies ahead.

“We intend to be the airline that people want to have. I think we are going to be listening a lot more and of course, the things that people are coming back to us for is the ubuntu, safety...”

From Monday, SAA will be expanding their routes to Harare, Lusaka, Maputo and Accra.

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