South African Airways Moves to Reign Supreme in Africa
PHOTO: SAA's acting CEO, Nico Bezuidenhout (Photo by David Cogswell)
While international airlines battle for the world’s most competitive routes in the highest traffic markets, South African Airways (SAA) is shoring up supremacy in Africa.
SAA has an 80-year history of operations and has established itself as the pre-eminent carrier for southern Africa. With its home base in Johannesburg, it is one of few airlines that can and does fly direct from the U.S. to Africa. SAA's Johannesburg hub positions it well to service points throughout sub-Saharan Africa. The airline is working to solidify its position against competitors that may also be eyeing the African air travel markets.
Speaking at the IATA Annual General Meeting in Miami, Nico Bezuidenhout, SAA’s acting chief executive, said the airline is determined to expand its presence to more destinations in Africa.
Bezuidenhout revealed the airline’s heady expectations.
“Our goal is to increase our revenue in the region by 30 percent in the next twelve months," he said. “Africa is a huge potential market for aviation and as Africa’s legacy airline, we want to see the continent contribute to more than the current 3 percent of global aviation.”
Staking out increased presence in West Africa, SAA recently launched new service between Accra, Ghana and Washington D.C. beginning Aug. 3. SAA claims to be offering the only nonstop flight between Ghana and D.C., and the only Skytrax four-star rated airline service from West Africa to North America.
Through a recently cemented bi-lateral codeshare agreement with Africa World Airlines, SAA can now offer connections through Accra to other destinations in Ghana, including Kumasi, Takoradi, and Tamale, and to Lagos, Nigeria.
Bezuidenhout also said the airline has completed its 90-Day Action Plan, which has resulted in significant reductions in costs, better positioning the airline for expansion within Africa.
“In the first quarter of 2015, a lot of efforts went into stabilizing our airline and we achieved significant milestones. We now want to grow our capabilities and better connect South Africa to the rest of the continent,” said Bezuidenhout.
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