South African Airways


1 February 1934: the South African government takes over the assets and liabilities of Union Airways. The airline was named South African Airways and fell under the control of the South African Railways and Harbour administration.

1 November 1934: SAA introduces Junkers Ju 52/3m, the first multi-engined aircraft used on South African local services. The aircraft was configured to carry 14 passengers and a crew of four.

9 June 1937: First regional service between Johannesburg-Pietersburg-Bulawayo-Livingstone-Lusaka with Ju 52/3m.

September 1939: The outbreak of war in Europe leads the airline to be separated into two wings – a defence wing controlled by the Department of Defence and a commercial wing controlled by the Administration. The entire fleet is taken over by the Department of Defence together with 22% of the personnel.

17 December 1940: Two commercial flights are reintroduced between the Union of South Africa and adjacent territories. The services are operated with a Lockheed Lodestar aircraft, capable of seating 12 passengers and a crew of four.

1 February 1955: SAA celebrates it 21st Birthday. Its fleet now consists of 25 aircraft.

24 April 1976: SAA makes the world’s first commercial flight using a Boeing 747SP. The aircraft was used on the Johannesburg-Lisbon-Rome-Athens service.

6 January 1977: The Boeing 747SP makes its first scheduled flight between Johannesburg and Sydney, Australia. The flight offers in-flight entertainment in the form of movies and audio on fiver channels.

April 1981: SAA introduces a three-class service for flight to Australia - Blue Diamond First Class, Gold Class for Business passengers and Silver Class for Economy class passengers.

27 October 1987: SAA operates its last flight from Sydney and Perth to Mauritius and Johannesburg after the Air Services agreement between the South African and Australian government is terminated.

13 May 1994: SAA introduces multi-lingual greetings on board domestic flights in English, Zulu, Sotho and Afrikaans. On international flights, passengers are greeted in the relevant destinations language.

2 December 1994: A new African airline, Alliance Air is launched in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. This is a three-way venture between SAA and the governments of Tanzania and Uganda.

7 March 2002: SAA embarks on an extensive fleet renewal programme and names Airbus as its supplier. The airline places an order for 41 new aircraft with a list price of US$3,5 billion, formalising Africa’s biggest jetliner acquisition.

7 January 2003: SAA appoints its first black female trainee pilot, Asnath Mahape. SAA signs a US$200 million deal with Rolls Royce to supply the airline’s nine A340-600s with Rolls Royce Trent 500 engines.

28 March 2007: SAA announces the airline is embarking on ‘deep and fundamental’ restructuring programme to bring the airline back into profitability.

5 September 2007: SAA announces that significant progress is being made in its Restructuring programme with a number of top 10 initiatives in the process of being finalised.

18 January 2008: SAA gets a new airport ground handler, Swissport. The two companies commit to working closely with Airports Company South Africa to improve service delivery to passengers and remedy past problem relating to baggage theft.




South African Airways
Bloemfontein Airport
Bloemfontein 9301
South Africa

0861 FLYSAA (0861 359722), 27 11 978 5313, 051 408 4848

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