South African Airways, Lufthansa Group Restore Codeshare

DALLAS — South African Airways (SA), the flag carrier of the namesake country, has announced another step towards the full recovery of its route network after its collapse in 2020. The airline has restored most parts of its codeshare flight system with the Lufthansa Group, the largest Star Alliance member composed of five subsidiaries.

Valid from August 16, 2023, passengers booking flights with SA can now enjoy seamless connectivity with all the Lufthansa (LH) European and American destination lists via the two-daily service placed by the German carrier between Johannesburg-O.R. Tambo (JNB) and Frankfurt-Main (FRA) Airports, operated by Boeing 747 airplanes.

Tebogo Tsimane, CCO at South African Airways, said, “We are thrilled to resume our codeshare agreement with Lufthansa and soon with Swiss airlines, who are both members of STAR Alliance, the largest Alliance amongst airlines. It is a key step in reconnecting our travelers from around the continent to a wider range of international destinations through their SAA ticket and earning Voyager miles.”

South Africa also expects to announce the official resuming of codeshare flights with SWISS (LX) to further enlarge its European presence through the Zurich-Kloten (ZRH) hub in Switzerland, also connected with a daily flight by the LH Group carrier.

Lufthansa flights 573 and 579 are the prime link between South Africa and the rest of Europe, and beyond. Photo: Misael Ocasio Hernandez/Airways

Slow Recovery After Cease of Operations

Before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, SA was already experiencing financial trouble and had started to reduce its size as an entity, in terms of its route network and fleet. However, after the sudden drop in demand and international border closure in 2020, the carrier definitely ceased operations and declared bankruptcy.

South African Airways was close to introducing the brand-new Airbus A350 into its operations before that period but had to pause the action and was forced to ground all four units expected to join the fleet in March 2020.

As the commercial aviation market stabilizes post-pandemic, the flag carrier of South Africa is finally coming alive again with a shy fleet of seven aircraft and 14 routes concentrated in Africa and South America.

Until 2020, the Airbus A340-600 played a key role in the intercontinental network at South African Airways. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways

Latest Fleet and Network Updates

At the moment of writing, the fleet of SA is made up of five Airbus A320-200 aircraft, destined for medium-haul intra-African routes, as well as one Airbus A330-300 and one Airbus A340-300, destined for medium-haul high-demand services and spontaneous transatlantic and long-haul flights to South America and Europe.

Despite its ability to operate long-haul flights with its widebody fleet, South Africa has now preferred to launch codeshared flights again with the Lufthansa Group to indirectly maintain its presence on foreign continents outside of Africa. The Group currently offers a wild network with 693 routes operated mainly from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.

In terms of direct SA operations, the carrier maintains a fixed presence in the domestic market via its subsidiary Airlink (4Z), as well as an international network shortly dominated by connections with Zambia and Malawi for the most part, with single flights operated as well to neighboring countries such as Namibia or Zimbabwe.

Featured image: South African Airways

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