SAnews.gov.za (Tshwane)

18 February 2014

South Africa: SAA Celebrates 80th Birthday

National carrier South African Airways (SAA) this month celebrates its 80th year of gracing the global skies.

"SAA, which was founded in 1934, celebrated its 80th anniversary this month.

"SAA has faced many changes over its illustrious history and has experienced many highlights and some turbulent times. Through the years, SAA, and its employees have shown extraordinary resilience and capacity for change," said SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali on Tuesday.

The airline today is a modern, technologically advanced airline that flies millions of people every year. Recently, SAA received for the 12th consecutive year the 4-Star airline ranking from Skytrax, the independent, global airline rating organisation.

SAA also remains the only carrier on the African continent to achieve this high level 4-Star Airline rating.

The award winning airline's safety record and its on-time performance remain key drivers of why customers fly with the airline.

Apart from SAA celebrating its 80 years of existence, SAA's frequent flyer programme, Voyager, which was one of the first ever frequent flyer programmes in Africa, also celebrates its 20th anniversary this month. SAA's low cost operator Mango will also be celebrating, turning eight later in the year.

The airline is set for a return to profitability with its long-term turnaround strategy, Gaining Altitude, in place which sets a long-term view for returning the airline to profitability.

The strategy sets five strategic objectives which are:

Support for South Africa's national developmental agenda;

To achieve and maintain commercial sustainability;

Provide excellent customer service;

Achieve consistent, efficient and effective operations; and

Foster performance excellence.

The Gaining Altitude strategy is well into its implementation phase and specific milestones have been reached. Loss making routes such as Bujumbura and Kigali, have been closed, with the route to Buenos Aires to be closed at the end of March 2014.

Last year alone, SAA implemented five new code share agreements, which is a considerable boost to the SAA route network without operating its own aircraft on those routes.

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