South African Airways takes delivery of its first A330-300 aircraft

South African Airways (SAA), has taken delivery of its first of five new leased A330-300 widebody jetliners, becoming Airbus’s first Southern African operator of the aircraft type.


SAA’s A330-300 are configured in a comfortable two-class cabin layout with 46 seats in Business Class and 203 in Economy class seats.  The aircraft will introduce new levels of onboard comfort, including connectivity for SAA’s passengers and enhanced operating efficiencies for the airline.

SAA has selected the latest 242-tonne Maximum Take-Off Weight variant of the A330-300, which incorporates a new aerodynamic packages enabling the aircraft to cover distances of up to 6,350 nautical miles (11,750km) in flights up to 15 hours in duration.  This payload/range capability allows the aircraft to be deployed across SAA’s long-haul, intra-Africa and peak domestic routes.

The A330-300s share the same cockpit configuration, operating philosophy and procedures with SAA’s existing fleet of Airbus widebody jetliners.  This high degree of commonality across the fleet is fundamental to achieving low operating, maintenance and training costs.

The A330 Family, which spans 250 to 300 seats, has attracted over 1,630 orders, with over 1,300 aircraft delivered to more than 100 operators worldwide, including SAA.  The A330 is one of the world’s most efficient aircraft with best-in-class operating economics and average on-time dispatch reliability above 99 percent.

Airbus Website

Virgin Australia’s South African Airways partnership kicks off

Virgin Australia's South African Airways partnership kicks off

Virgin Australia Velocity members can now earn both frequent flyer points and status credits when booking and travelling with Star Alliance member South African Airways, including on its Perth-Johannesburg flights.

Also part of the tie-up: Velocity Gold and Silver cardholders can make use of priority check-in on SAA flights and can bring an extra 23kg of baggage in economy or 32kg when flying in business class, while Platinum members can also skip the queues with 32kg of baggage on any ticket.

The airline’s nine Baobab Premium Class Lounges await Velocity Gold and Platinums across South Africa including in Johannesburg (domestic and international), Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and East London, along with Lagos (Nigeria), Harare (Zimbabwe) and Lusaka (Zambia).

And once you’ve snuck in that final lounge drink, Gold and Platinum guests can also use the business class priority boarding lane for ‘first dibs’ on space in the overhead lockers.

There’s no lounge access on offer at Perth Airport for Velocity frequent flyers stuck in economy on SAA’s Johannesburg flights, although business class passengers and Star Alliance Gold members can continue to use Qantas’ international business class lounge in Perth.

Earning and redeeming frequent flyer points with SAA

Velocity members will earn 1.25 frequent flyer points per mile flown in business class with SAA, one point per mile on the higher-priced economy tickets and 0.5 points per mile on the cheaper fares.

On a return journey from Perth to Johannesburg that amounts to roughly 12,932 points earned in business class, 10,346 points in full economy and 5,172 points in discount economy.

And if you’re travelling with South African between May 16 and July 31, be sure to head to the Velocity website by May 9 and register your frequent flyer number to earn double points on all SAA flights during that period.

Velocity points can then be redeemed for flights with the program’s newest partner South African Airways: you’ll need 45,000 points for a one-way flight from Perth to Johannesburg in economy and 95,000 points for the same in business class.

The deal marks a logical extension of the previous codeshare partnership between Virgin Australia and SAA, which allowed members to earn points and status credits only when booking their flights directly through Virgin Australia.


Australian Business Traveller

Virgin Australia and South African hook up for points, status credits

Virgin Australia and Star Alliance member South African Airways have inked a reciprocal frequent flyer agreement which will let Velocity members earn points and status credits on South African flights from early 2015.

The deal marks a logical extension of the current codeshare alliance between Virgin and SAA, and will also cover South African’s partners Airlink and SA Express.

In addition, Velocity members will be able to to use their points to purchase reward seats on all South African Airways-operated services.

Topping it off are  premium services such as priority check-in, priority boarding and lounge access with South African Airways.

Members of South Africa’s Voyager loyalty scheme will see the same opportunities when flying with Virgin Australia.

Qantas maintained a partnership with South African Airways until earlier this year, with codeshares on SAA’s Perth-Johannesburg services and Qantas’ daily Sydney-Johannesburg flight.

While Qantas continues its Johannesburg flights the airline also offers the option of flying via Dubai with Emirates, which recently boosted its flights to South Africa’s largest city.


Source : Australian Business Traveller

Qantas nixes frequent flyer partnership with South African Airways

Qantas nixes frequent flyer partnership with South African Airways

Qantas will pull the plug on its frequent flyer partnership with South African Airways flights from October 1st.

Currently, Qantas Frequent Flyers can earn points – although not status credits – when travelling on SAA domestic flights.

It’s the final nail in the coffin for the Qantas/SAA alliance, which earlier this year saw South African removing its code from Qantas’ daily Sydney-Johannesburg flight and instead hooking up with Virgin Australia.

Qantas also stopped codesharing on SAA’s Perth-Johannesburg services, which previously allowed residents in the mining capital to earn both points and status credits when travelling for business or on safari.

Jetsetters flying onwards from Johannesburg can still earn Qantas Points and status credits on Oneworld affiliate Comair at the British Airways rates.

Qantas’ daily Johannesburg flights are unaffected, with travellers also having the option to fly via Dubai with Emirates, which recently boosted its flights to South Africa’s largest city.


Source : Australian Business Traveller

South African Airways expands Virgin Australia alliance to Sydney-Perth

South African Airways expands Virgin Australia alliance to Sydney-Perth

Virgin Australia and South African Airways will extend their codeshare relationship from June 1st to include Virgin Australia’s flights between Sydney and Perth, following Qantas’ decision to abandon its alliance with South African Airways from May 31st.

The new hookup, confirmed to Australian Business Traveller this evening by SAA and due to be officially announced tomorrow, will allow passengers to book onto SAA’s Perth-Johannesburg flight using Virgin’s Sydney-Perth A330 services.

Virgin Australia will continue its own Johannesburg service through Singapore Airlines, as a full codeshare on SQ flights via Singapore, with full Velocity points and status credits earnings.

South African Airways last month began codesharing Virgin Australia flights from Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide to Perth, but was prevented from adding Sydney to the roster due to the then-current QF/SAA tie-up.

“We have had a tremendous response since we first announced our new relationship with Virgin Australia” said SAA’s Country Manager for Australasia Tim Clyde-Smith.

Qantas retains its Sydney-Johannesburg route but will no longer offer bookings on South African Airways’ flight from Perth to Johannesburg, instead offering flights via Dubai with its partner Emirates.

Emirates operates three daily services between Perth and Dubai with onward connections to Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, which means a long trek for the Flying Kangaroo’s Perth passengers.

South African Airways’ Perth-Johannesburg flight takes around 10.5 hours – the same amount of time as flying from Perth to Dubai on Emirates.

Qantas says that “customers who choose to travel on Emirates operated services to Johannesburg will have a connection time in Dubai of 1 hour and 40 minutes”, after which there’s another eight hours in the air – meaning that the Dubai detour will add almost 10 hours to the trip.


Source : Australian Business Traveller

Qantas partner South African Airways hooks up with Virgin Australia

Qantas partner South African Airways hooks up with Virgin Australia

Virgin Australia will partner with South African Airways (SAA) through a new codeshare agreement announced this evening.

The alliance is a surprising one because South African is also a partner with Qantas – the Flying Kangaroo codeshares with SAA’s flight from Perth to Johannesburg and Qantas’ own Sydney-Johannesburg service.

The new alliance will allow Virgin Australia passengers from Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide – but not Sydney – to book onto SAA’s Perth-Johannesburg flight by connecting to Perth on “domestic Virgin Australia routes” a spokesman for South African Airways told Australian Business Traveller.

The spokesman said the Virgin Australia partnership didn’t impact on the airline’s joint venture with Qantas because “SAA has entered into a separate codeshare arrangement with Virgin Australia.”

However, the tie-up with Virgin Australia doesn’t extend to Sydney as that city is already an anchor for the Qantas/SAA agreement.

Virgin Australia passengers on SAA flights will be able to earn Velocity frequent flyer points and status credits.

“They will also have the benefit of through-checking their baggage and receiving boarding passes to Johannesburg from their original location in Australia and onto any destination in Africa served by SAA” said Tim Clyde-Smith, South African Airways’ Country Manager for Australasia.

A reciprocal arrangement will allow travellers on South African Airways to connect through from SAA’s flight into Perth onto Virgin Australia domestic services.

Tickets based on the new VA/SAA alliance go on sale from tomorrow, February 7th, for travel from February 11th.

The Jo’burg joint venture

The alliance between Qantas and South African Airways on flights between Australia and Johannesburg will expire in December this year, and it would be for Qantas to decide if they wanted to continue the arrangement, the SAA spokesman said.

“If Qantas wants to change things they will have to give notice, but it’s up to them.”

Qantas previously sought approval from the International Air Services Commission for the alliance to run through to March 2016 however the IASC describing the tie-up as an “effective duopoly”, given that Qantas and South African Airways are the only airlines offering direct flights between the two countries.

“‘The commission is concerned that [the code-share] may deter or delay the introduction of competing services, particularly on the Sydney route, and increase barriers to entry” it said when passing its limited extension to the QF/SA hook-up.

”The commission is not satisfied that the code share would be of benefit to the public beyond 2014.'”

There has been speculation that Qantas will axe its Sydney-Johannesburg route, which operates using a fuel-thirsty Boeing 747-400, as one of many measures to curtail the airline’s financial losses, which it expects to be in the range of $250-300 million for the July-December 2013 half-year.

Qantas would shift to serving Johannesburg via Dubai, using codeshare flights currently operated by its partner Emirates.

Emirates also flies directly from Dubai to Cape Town and Durban.


Source : Australia Business Traveller

Flight check:South African Airways Boeing 737-800

3:00 PM Friday Jul 5, 2013

Grant Bradley flies on South African Airways

The plane: A Boeing 737-800, one of the later models of this fabulous workhorse, but well worn.

Class: Economy, with a 3-3 seat configuration. In business, separated by a curtain, it’s 2-3 seat. There’s an 8kg limit on hand luggage but no sign of enforcement of that.

Price: Economy tickets on this popular commuter run go for a little under $200 for the two-hour flight.

On time? We pushed back eight minutes late on a glorious morning.

My seat: 22C, on the aisle. Older-style cloth seats, plenty of leg room though.

Fellow passengers: It was a Saturday so not the usual number of suits. The plane can seat up to 157, but was about two-thirds full. My neighbour one seat over, was Sam, who was very curious about New Zealand’s economy and did not have much time for Oscar Pistorius.

Entertainment: Flip-down screens showed short items with good-looking people apparently extolling the virtues of South Africa. No headphones were offered so it was hard to tell.

A glimpse of the sprawl of Johannesburg, the brown of the veldt, but little of Cape Town, which was being battered by the worst winter storm in years, making for an exciting landing.

Service: South African Airways has a reputation for keeping up staff numbers, so no shortage of personnel and they were very friendly.

Food: SAA is also clinging to the full service model, so a full breakfast of omelette, sausage, potato and tomato, with juice and coffee was served.

Toilets: Clean, fairly tight space.

The airport experience: OR Tambo in Johannesburg is very big and named after the exiled freedom fighter. In the apartheid era it was Jan Smuts Airport where All Black teams arrived to a taste of the fanaticism that would doom them to successive failures and where one infamously said he was looking forward to “scoring more off the field than on”. The security is formidable, heavy iron grilles, lots of guards and I was a bit of a shambles after 26 hours’ journey time, rumpled suit on top of other clothes, pockets full and inevitably triggering alarms and well deserving of closer inspection. One stern-looking guard undid my shirt buttons and, just as I was preparing for a fairly intimate frisk, did them up again – this time in the right order – turned my collar over my jacket, smiled, gave me two thumbs up and told me it was “a much better look”.

Would I fly again? Certainly, but I’d also love to make the two-day “reverse trek” to the Cape in a car.
• Business Herald aviation reporter Grant Bradley flew as a guest of SAA.


The New Zealand Herald