SA2004, a specially chartered aircraft by South African Airways (SAA) carried the country’s national Olympic team to Athens in Greece earlier this week.
The flight, which departed at 20h00 on Tuesday from Johannesburg International Airport carried 160 of SA’s finest athletes to the birthplace of the Olympics.As one of the 8 sponsors of National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA) SAA holds the title of “Official Airline Carrier” for the team. The airline is also their greatest supporter.
SA2005 will return the athletes to Johannesburg at the end of the month, no doubt carrying a little extra weight with the anticipated gold medals they will bring back with them!
“As Proud Sponsor and Proud Supporter, South African Airways is honoured in having the opportunity to continue its relationship with the National Olympic Committee of South Africa and the South African Olympic Team at this years Olympic Games,” says Oyama Mabandla, SAA acting President and CEO.
“SAA has from the beginning of South Africa’s entry into the world’s greatest sporting event supported the country’s sports men and women. The airline is dedicated to their achievements and the realisation of their dreams,” says Mabandla.
SAA was the official carrier of the 1992 Olympic team to Barcelona, Spain, supported the SA team in Atlanta, USA and the 2000 team to Sydney, Australia.
The now famous SAA aircraft, Ndizani, painted in the South African Olympic colours still flew with pride until it was retired this year as part of the airline’s aircraft renewal plan. Fondly known as the ‘Smartie Box’, the vibrant aircraft was decorated in the elaborate colours to symbolise SAA’s commitment to building and uniting South Africans through sport. Former President, world icon and SAA’s number one passenger, Nelson Mandela, inspired the figures on the aircraft.
SAA has an extensive relationship with sport in South Africa and was also a sponsor for the Soccer World Cup 2010 bid to be held in South Africa and will fly the Amakrokokroko to the Paralympics next month.