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South African Airways set to launch route to Buenos Aires

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South African Airways (SAA) will launch a new route to Buenos Aires next year as part of a broader growth strategy, the airline announced

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South African Airways (SAA) will launch a new route to Buenos Aires next year as part of a broader growth strategy, the airline announced

The new flights on the route between Johannesburg and Buenos Aires in Argentina will begin on April 8, 2009 and will initially take place twice a week. An Airbus A340-200 will be used, with the flights departing on Wednesday and Sunday at 09:50 from Johannesburg to arrive in Buenos Aires at 16:30.

Flights will depart the same day from Buenos Aires at 18:30 to arrive the following morning at 08:55 at OR Tambo International airport in Johannesburg. SAA will add a third service on Fridays from July 2009 onwards. Passengers started booking tickets for flights to Buenos Aires since November 28, 2008.

The route to Buenos Aires will complement SAA’s existing daily South American service to São Paulo in Brazil and will feed the airline’s flights from Johannesburg to destinations in Africa, as well as to Asia and Australia.

“From Johannesburg, travelers can fly conveniently with SAA to destinations within South Africa such as Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and East London, as well as to 19 destinations in Africa. SAA offers travelers safety, reliability, punctuality and good service which are the key requirements of our customers,” SAA said in a statement.

Adding a second destination in South America strengthens the airline’s position as the preferred carrier between South America and Asia. “We are positive that by adding more seats in the market we will meet the strong demand from both continents wishing to benefit from our shorter flying times and superior service via the South Atlantic route,” SAA chief executive Khaya Ngqula said.

“Buenos Aires is an excellent market for SAA, offering good connectivity throughout the southern half of South America, adding to our well established and very popular destination in Sao Paulo with its excellent connections to key cities in the northern part of South America and Central America,” Ngqula added.

Meanwhiile, SAA has experienced strong demand on its Sao Paulo route, which is currently the airline’s only South American destination. The Buenos Aires route will build on the success of this route, allowing SAA to facilitate southern hemisphere traffic flows. Negotiations are also under way with airlines Lan Chile and Aeromexico about future cooperation.

The Buenos Aires route expansion is in line with SAA’s vision of being an African airline with global reach. It will be SAA’s first route launch following the airline’s deep and fundamental restructuring plan.

“SAA’s restructuring strategy is still under way, and will officially end in March 2009, but it has worked extremely well for the organization by reducing costs and growing revenue. A total of R1-billion costs was removed and revenue grew 9 percent to South African Rand22.26billion in 2007/08, with revenue growth expected to again exceed the target set for the current financial year.

“We are now at the point where we can think about growth in order to position SAA for the future. The growth plans are currently being finalized for implementation in the new financial year ie April 2009. These plans will build on the gains we have made under restructuring rather than setting SAA on a new strategic course,” Ngqula said.

SAA is the African continent’s biggest international carrier, with a fleet of over 60 aircraft. From its hub in Johannesburg, South Africa, the carrier serves on routes to destinations in all the five continents.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.