State-owned airline South African Airways (SAA) will start direct flights between Johannesburg and Guangzhou, China, on September 18.
Giving customers access to the heart of China’s export-led manufacturing industries is another part of the airline’s strategy of enhancing its route network.
“The decision to launch this direct service between Johannesburg and Guangzhou means we remain on track in executing our strategy to transform SAA into a fit for the future airline that will operate both efficiently and competitively,” SAA CEO Vuyani Jarana said in a statement on Monday.
The Guangzhou route will cater for a spectrum of travellers between Johannesburg and China, including business and corporate travellers, and will be of special interest to traders. Cargo operations will complement the viability of this route, considering that high-value cargo is sourced from Guangzhou, the airline highlighted.
SAA will be the only carrier operating a direct service between Johannesburg and Guangzhou, with flight times of about 13 hours and 40 minutes, providing the shortest travel time on a nonstop basis between the two points.
There will be three new flights per week to Guangzhou, in South China, and these will complement SAA’s current operations to Hong Kong.
“Adding a direct service to mainland China, combined with our current popular flights to Hong Kong provides SAA with immense growth opportunities to and from mainland China. It also gives our traders access to the centre of Chinese manufacturing,” said Jarana.
For more travel options for SAA customers flying to and from Guangzhou, the airline has interline agreements with China Southern Airlines, China Eastern, Air China and Hainan Airlines.
To complement this initiative, Guangzhou city has an extensive fast train network connecting the hub with important cities in China within one to three hours of SAA’s arrival and departure time.
The newly opened 45 minutes’ fast train line between Guangzhou and Hong Kong provides alternatives to customers to use both SAA’s Hong Kong and Guangzhou services.
SAA is also negotiating a code share agreement with Hong Kong Airlines, which is expected to be in place this financial year, for further travel options for customers travelling beyond Hong Kong.
Hong Kong airlines will codeshare on SAA’s Hong Kong–Johannesburg route and provide feeder traffic from Japan, Korea, the Philippines and China.
The planned schedule aims to offer morning arrivals in Johannesburg, seamless connection with SAA’s regional network with less than three-hour lay-overs in Johannesburg.
The afternoon arrival flight in Guangzhou will connect to more than 20 cities in China and these include, besides others, Shanghai, Beijing, Fuzhou, Xiamen and Nanning.
The inbound flights from Guangzhou will allow for connections with arriving flights from Japan and Korea that are an important market on days SAA will not be operating from Hong Kong.
“We are confident that the introduction of this route is based on sound commercial considerations and will not only benefit SAA, but South Africa as a whole, [considering that] China is the largest source market in Asia. It is also South Africa’s largest trading partner in the world,” concluded Jarana.