JOHANNESBURG. 2 November 2015. South African Airways (SAA), the leading airline on the continent, welcomes Air China to SA following its inaugural flight from Beijing to Johannesburg.
“SAA can now again offer customers direct access from Johannesburg to Beijing and further on in China through our partnership with Air China. We welcome the first Air China flight to our country and we’re excited about our deepening partnership with Air China, which dates back to 2012,” says Thuli Mpshe, SAA Acting CEO.
“Our industry is a highly dynamic one and competition is ruthless. It requires adaptability and agility. Most importantly, it requires dependable friends and allies. For us, Air China is a fitting and dependable ally.
“We value this partnership as it not only provides connectivity for our customers, but because it forms part of a strong country-to-country relationship through our membership of the BRICS group of countries,” said Mpshe.
Air China launched a non-stop service between Beijing and Johannesburg with the first flight which landed last week from Beijing in Johannesburg. The airline will now offer three services a week between the two cities.
SAA and Air China are both the national flag carriers of their respective countries, as well as Star Alliance members (the largest international airline network), which brings an enhanced value proposition to the customers of both carriers.
SAA partnered with Air China in 2012, when SAA operated the Johannesburg-Beijing route with its own aircraft and entered into a codeshare agreement on the Johannesburg-Beijing, and Johannesburg and beyond from Beijing to Shanghai.
The airline subsequently ceased own metal operations on the route in March this year.
Since this development, the two airlines have expanded their codeshare agreement, allowing their respective customers access to further destinations across the People’s Republic of China and SA Africa. The two airlines will jointly market the Beijing-Johannesburg route and beyond Beijing to Chengdu, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Chongqing. In turn, SAA’s services from Johannesburg to Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth will be on offer.
Customers can buy one ticket from SA to China or from China to any of SAA’s destinations. Frequent flyer members are eligible for mileage accrual on the codeshared flights.
Currently China is SA’s largest trade partner. “The non-stop service between these countries will be a convenient enabler of business and leisure travel. This partnership promises to nurture economic activity, with domestic and regional benefits within the Southern African Development Community (SADC), as well as the international benefit which is realised through BRICS countries’ initiatives, expecting to pay dividends both in terms of trade and tourism. Other BRICS countries, such as Brazil, will also benefit from easy and convenient access to China through Johannesburg,” said Mpshe.