South African Airways


South African Airways

Infobox Airline
airline = South African Airways

logo_size = 240
fleet_size = 49
destinations = 35
IATA = SA
ICAO = SAA
callsign = SPRINGBOK
parent = Transnet
founded = 1934 ( first purchased as Union Airways by SA Government)
headquarters = Johannesburg, South Africa
key_people = Khaya Ngqula (CEO), Kaushik Patel (CFO)
hubs = OR Tambo Int'l Airport
Cape Town International Airport
focus_cities =
frequent_flyer = Voyager
lounge = Cycad/Baobab Lounge
alliance = Star Alliance
website = http://www.flysaa.com

South African Airways (SAA) is South Africa's flag carrier and largest domestic and international airline company, with hubs in Cape Town and Johannesburg. It is also known in Afrikaans as Suid-Afrikaanse Lugdiens (SAL), although this version of the name no longer appears on the airline's livery. South African Airways is rated by performance, revenues, safety and other criteria as the best and most profitable airline in Africa and one of the top airlines in the world.

History

Formation

In 1934, Union Airways was bought by South Africa's government, and renamed "South African Airways" on 1 February. The first cities served were Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. The following year, also on 1 February, South African Airways took over South-West African Airways which had since 1932 been providing a weekly air-mail service between Windhoek and Kimberley.

In the 1930s SAA entered the international market with flights to Kenya and Uganda at British East Africa. The main aircraft of SAA in the 1930s was the famous Junkers JU-52, affectionately known as Tante-Ju. Eleven of these flew for SAA. Other types used in the 1930s included eighteen Junkers JU-86's, which served from 1937 onwards, as well as four Airspeed "Envoy" light twin airliners.

The slow growth continued during the 1940s, though the airline was effectively closed for the duration of WWII. In 1944 SAA began operating the Lockheed Lodestar to restart domestic services and by 1948 SAA was operating nineteen examples. These were withdrawn in 1955.

On November 10 1945 SAA achieved a longtime company goal by operating a route to Europe when an Avro York landed in Bournemouth, England, after the long flight from Palmietfontein near Johannesburg. These were replaced by the DC-4 "Skymaster"'s from 1946 onwards, which in turn was replaced by the Lockheed Constellation on international routes in 1950. Also of note in the post war era was the DC-3 Dakota, of which eight served with SAA, the last example being withdrawn as late as 1970.

SAA used to name its aircraft (such as the Boeing 707, Boeing 727, Boeing 737-200 and Boeing 747) after geographical features in South Africa, such as rivers, cities, towns and mountain ranges. However, SAA aircraft are no longer named.

In 2006, two 747-400s, delivered in 1990 and 1991 (ZS-SAV "Durban" and ZS-SAW "Bloemfontein"), were sold to Cathay Pacific Airways and converted to B747-400BCF or Boeing Converted Freighters. Cathay values these B747-444 as they have the same Rolls-Royce RB211 engines as Cathay's passenger fleet, making maintenance much faster and cheaper than if the freighter used General Electric or Pratt & Whitney engines.

In June 2007, SAA confirmed earlier speculation that the airline's restructuring plan means there will be no new aircraft purchased for an unspecified time period.cite news|url=http://www.moneyweb.co.za/mw/view/mw/en/page62093?oid=138649&sn=Detail|title=SAA announces major restructuring|date=June 4, 2007|publisher= [http://moneyweb.co.za MoneyWeb] ] Additionally, the airline announced that SAA's six remaining Boeing 747-400s will be pulled from the fleet, meaning that the airline will no longer operate any variant of the 747. SAA's final 747 flight took place on 1 November 2007.

The average age of South African Airways fleet is 7.0 years in March 2008.

Accidents and Incidents

Accidents

*Junkers Ju 52, ZS-AKY, 16 June 1937. Aircraft crashed on take-off at Port Elizabeth Airport following engine failure in two engines. Aircraft consumed by fire but all aboard escaped. This was the airline's first accident in which passengers were injured.cite book|title=A Firm resolve: A History of SAA Accidents and Incidents 1934-1987|first=Mark D|last=Young|month=May | year=2007|publisher=Laminar Publishing Associates, South Africa]

*Lockheed L-18 Lodestar, ZS-AST 28 March 1941, Elands Bay, South Africa. All aboard killed on impact and/or post crash fire.cite web|url=http://www.planecrashinfo.com/Airline/AL%20Sj-Sz.htm|title=Plane Crash Info: Airline/Operator Sj-Sz|publisher= [http://www.planecrashinfo.com planecrashinfo.com] ]

*Lockheed L-18 Lodestar, ZS-ASW, 5 th January 1948. Aircraft overran runway at Palmietfontein after landing deep. Undercarriage ripped-off and hull damaged beyond repair. Light injuries to passengers but no fatalities.

*Douglas DC-3, 15 October 1951, Vicinity East Griqualand, South Africa.

*de Havilland Comet, SA201, 8 April 1954 Flight 201 departed Rome for Cairo and Johannesburg. The flight was a leased British Overseas Airways Corporation De Havilland Comet. The aircraft crashed off the coast of Italy killing all 21 people onboard. Along with BOAC Flight 781, it was one of two Comet crashes caused by a flaw in the design.

*Douglas DC-3, ZS-DJC flight SA512 6 March 1962, Vicinity Seymour, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Aircraft crashed into mountainside after pilot insisted on conducting flight as visual flight rules (VFR) while flying below low cloud above rising ground. Pilot and First Officer killed, passengers and cabin staff survived.

*Vickers Viscount 818, SA406, 13 March 1967, Vicinity East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Aircraft crashed into sea 1.5 miles offshore while approaching to land during bad weather. No cause found by investigators due to inability to retrieve or photo map wreckage. All aboard killed.

*Boeing 707-344C, SA228, 20 April 1968, Near Windhoek, South West Africa (Now Namibia). Aircraft was 6 weeks old. Crew used flap retraction sequence from 707-B series which removed flaps in larger increments than desirable for that stage of the flight, leading to loss of lift at 600 ft above ground level. Subsequent descent went undetected by crew, leading to impact with ground. Casualties totalled 119 dead.

*Boeing 747-244B Combi, SA295, 28 November 1987 "The Helderberg" crashed over the Indian Ocean en-route from Taipei, Taiwan to Johannesburg via Mauritius. This followed after a fire in the main cargo hold; all 159 people on board were killed.

Incidents

*South African Airways Flight 322, 17 June 2006 South African Flight 322, a Boeing 737-800 underwent an attempted hijacking by a 21-year-old Zimbabwean, who took a flight attendant hostage in attempt to enter the aircraft's cockpit and divert the plane to Maputo, Mozambique. He was subdued before entering the cockpit on the flight en-route from Cape Town to Johannesburg. The pilots of SAA Flight 322 had been monitoring the incident via CCTV and the plane was turned back to Cape Town where a police task force stormed the aircraft and arrested the suspect. [cite news|url=http://www.capeargus.co.za/index.php?fSectionId=49&fArticleId=3300793|publisher=Cape Times|date=June 20, 2006|title=Hijacking procedures top notch, says SAA] [cite web|url=http://www.osac.gov/Reports/report.cfm?contentID=49041|title=South African Airlines Hijacking Update|publisher=Overseas Security Advisory Council|date=June 12, 2006|accessdate=2007-11-05]

Anti-competitive practices

On 5 June 2007, it was announced that SAA paid ZAR 55 million to the South African government's Competition Commission. The penalty was imposed because of anticompetitive behaviour such as price-fixing. This fine was in addition to a ZAR 45 million fine paid by SAA on 31 May 2006 as a penalty for SAA's attempts to prevent travel agents from dealing with rival air carriers. [cite web|url=http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php?from=rss_South%20Africa&set_id=1&click_id=13&art_id=nw20070605160330201C894748|title=SAA pays competition fine|publisher= [http://iol.co.za iol.co.za] |date=June 5 2007]

References

External links

* [http://www.flysaa.com Official website]
* [http://www.saaenews.com Newsletter]
* [http://www.springbokradio.com/SAA.html Springbokradio SA Airways Soundfiles] (Multimedia)
* [http://www.airbus.com/en/corporate/orders_and_deliveries/# Airbus.com Orders]
* [http://www.historicflight.co.za South African Historic Flight] - SAA historic planes
* [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0620303239 A Firm Resolve: A History of SAA Accidents 1934-1987; Young, Mark D]

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