South African Airways (SAA) will in September offer direct flights between Johannesburg and Guangzhou in China.
“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,” said SAA Chief Executive Officer Vuyani Jarana.
SAA will offer direct flights to the port city as of 18 September 2019, giving its customers access to the heart of China’s export led manufacturing industries.
The move, said the national carrier on Sunday, is part of its strategy to enhance its route network.
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.
SAA will be the only carrier operating a direct service between Johannesburg and Guangzhou, with a flight time of approximately 13 hours and 40 minutes, providing the shortest travel time on a nonstop basis between the two points.
The carrier will operate three new flights per week to Guangzhou complementing its current operations to Hong Kong.
This means, SAA will fly four times a week to Hong Kong while Airbus A340-300 aircraft will operate on both routs.
Guangzhou is the largest city in the Guangdong province in South China and the third largest Chinese city after Beijing and Shanghai. It is an important transportation hub and trading port, located on the Pearl River about 120km Northwest of 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.
Code share agreement
Meanwhile the national carrier is also negotiating a code share agreement with Hong Kong Airlines, anticipated 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 sector and provide feeder traffic from Japan, Korea, Philippines and China.
“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 as China is the largest source market in Asia. It is also South Africa’s largest trading partner in the world,” said Jarana.
Meanwhile, Air Tanzanian had also announced last year it was to start direct flights to Guangzhou and Bangkok in February but this didn’t take off.