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Q: The resumption of direct flights to Perth is great news for Aussies. Why have you made the decision to reinstate the flight now?       

A: South African Airways has a comprehensive footprint across Africa (14 direct routes out of Johannesburg into Africa’s continental hubs/destinations).

However, there was a clear strategic imperative for a direct connection between Johannesburg and Perth as only one other airline (i.e. Qantas) provided direct access between the cities.

SAA has introduced the Perth route to cater to business travellers, leisure tourists, persons visiting friends and relatives, students and the larger South African diaspora community residing in Perth and in the western region of Australia.

Moreover, western Australia is a key focus of that nation’s mining and resources sector. It’s strategically important for the South African mining and minerals sector to have direct connectivity to this region in Australia.

Better connectivity means stronger business ties. This, too, was a key consideration in our decision to introduce the route.

Q: How important is the Australian market to SAA?           

A: Australia in general (and western Australia in particular) is important to South Africa. Australia is a key market for leisure and business tourist arrivals to South Africa.

Australian tourists are a valuable source of foreign direct spend in our economy, contributing to both direct and indirect South African employment through tourism.

There is a significant diaspora of South Africans resident in Perth so it’s certain that the route will serve that section of the market that travels to visit friends and relatives.

Additionally, mining is a significant economic driver of both economies. The route was introduced to service this economic sector.

Q: In terms of the SA domestic market, is the market over-traded?

A: Our belief, borne out by market research and demand for our service, is that significant scope for growth exists in the South African domestic market.

SAA welcomes competition: it’s patently good for consumers and stimulates the pursuit of excellence and value proposition delivery across the playing field.

Q: You’ve been away from our shores for many years now. Do you think it will be hard reconnecting with the travelling Aussie public?              

A: We firmly believe that people, whether Australians or South Africans, seek excellent value for money, warm and friendly service, and evidence that the service provider acknowledges and responds to their needs.

People, rightfully, assume safety and convenience as part of an airline’s service.

These are all key drivers of our consumer proposition and how our service is offered to the market. We are confident SAA will quickly build a good rapport with Australians. We look forward to actively servicing this market and rekindling these friendships.

Q: With modern aircraft it’s more than possible to fly direct from Joburg to Sydney. Might SAA consider this one day?        

A: The airline is on a cautious but determined growth path. You will be among the first to know if our airline decides to fly direct to Sydney. For now, this is not on the cards.

Q: SAA went through some tough times when COVID was at its worst. What kind of shape is the airline in now and how do you see the state of the global airline industry in 2024 and beyond?

A: Like most carriers, SAA keenly felt the impact of COVID-19. However, like many other carriers, we are seeing market recovery.

We are buoyant that the market is recovering and, indeed, that tourism (domestic and international) is getting back on its feet again.