South African Airways Looks To African Routes To Become ‘Self-Sustainable’

South African Airways Looks To African Routes To Become ‘Self-Sustainable’

By Sizwe sama Yende | From City Press

Struggling state-owned airline, South African Airways (SAA), is banking on new African routes to fulfill its goal of being self-sustainable.

SAA launched a new route to the Nigerian federal capital of Abuja on Tuesday – taking the first batch of travellers on the seven-hour flight. This is the airline’s second route to the west African country. It already has daily flights to Lagos.

“The African region contributes a significant amount to SAA’s revenue,” said SAA’s regional general manager for Africa and Middle East, Aaron Munetsi, “and this new route is definitely part of the process to become self-sustainable”.

This initiative, Munetsi said, was in line with the airline’s Africa Growth Strategy. Munetsi said research has indicated that more people in African countries wanted to travel to South Africa and take connecting flights to the rest of the world.

SAA is cash-strapped and has unstable management as it has had seven chief executive officers over the past few years. It has been surviving on R14 billion worth of government-debt guarantees. It last posted a full-year profit in 2011 and has asked Finance Minister Pravin Godhan for more guarantees.

Munetsi said most of SAA’s African routes were profitable and the parastatal was now exploring adjacent markets, which means that they are not only flying to cities but to other centres in the targeted countries, for example, in tourism and trade hubs.

“This is what we’ve been doing. We want to fly to Enugu in (the south eastern part of) Nigeria because this is where most of the traders are based. In Cameroon we’ve been flying to Douala and now we also go to Yaounde,” he said.

Read more at City Press