18 July, 2003, JOHANNESBURG: We at South African Airways have looked and thought hard about a fitting tribute and present for former President Nelson Mandela’s 85th birthday. We found three gifts.
OUR FIRST GIFT symbolises SAA’s transformation into a progressive airline with a modern and state-of-the-art Airbus fleet. The acquisition of this modern fleet reaffirms our strategy of Perfecting the Basics in which we strive to provide our passengers with the most modern, reliable and safe mode of travel as well as seamless customer service excellence.
To celebrate the acquisition of this modern fleet we at SAA and our parent company, Transnet and the Ministry of Public Enterprises have decided to name the first of our 41 new Airbus aircraft after Mr Nelson Mandela. This symbolises the transformation he brought to our country and therefore the transformation he made possible at our airline. From now, our first Airbus 340-600 will be called “Nelson Mandela”.
We will unveil the name on this A340-600 aircraft and other names at a ceremony in November at our headquarters outside the airport. We hope Mr Mandela will join us to officially bless his namesake, and help us celebrate the naming of the other aircraft.
We believe that whenever this aircraft, the Airbus A340-600 “Nelson Mandela”, is parked at international airports or it is flying in South Africa and across the world, it will remind everyone of what Mr Mandela stand for: progressive change, courage and great leadership.
THE SECOND GIFT, is a token of our appreciation for his life of hardship, courage and countless achievements, particularly his work for peace and harmony in South Africa and all corners of the globe. From today SAA is offering Mr Mandela and his wife, Mrs Graca Machel, unlimited free first class flights on all destinations served by South African Airways.
As much as we now live Mr Mandela’s dream of a free South Africa, he should also enjoy our seamless customer service to many destinations around the globe. His presence on our flights will reaffirm his and our commitment to a democratic and free society.
OUR THIRD gift is a spectacular flypast. The aircraft which has been named after Mr Mandela flew over his house to mark this memorable occasion, his 85th Birthday.
Even though the flypast will last a few minutes, we believe, it symbolises his life of always holding his head high when it comes to his principles. The fly-past is a perfect spectacle to celebrate the life of someone of his stature, who has taken South Africa to greater heights.
We at SAA believe he has succeeded in presenting himself as a humble person, a man of considerable humour and unpretentiousness, in conversation or at the podium. He is such an extraordinary person that the more we have delved into his life, the more proud we are to have named our aircraft which is also an icon of our fleet, after him - an icon of many people across the world.
SAA, in collaboration with the SABC, are also showing a video birthday card on our domestic, regional and outbound international flights.