The route change will commence effective August 15th for flights from Cape Town, with all passengers flying to London via Johannesburg.
SAA currently has two daily services between London Heathrow and Johannesburg and will be increasing its capacity on these flights by 13 per cent through use of larger aircraft to accommodate passengers on this route.
SAA also offers up to 38 flights daily between Cape Town and Johannesburg.
SAA launched its direct service between Cape Town and London in 1992 as South Africa emerged from a long period of isolation and at the dawn of a massive growth in tourism.
Since then, numerous international airlines have added the Mother City to their routes, among them airlines based in oil producing states whose structures give them a lower overall cost bases, and whose home countries – unlike the UK – do not charge South Africans for transit visas.
SAA also points out that, over the last three years, the market between the UK and South Africa for all carriers has shrunk by 24 per cent due to factors including increased APD, the introduction of a £52 visa fee for South Africans travelling to the UK and the UK slipping from first to fourth in South African trade ranking.
“SAA is redeploying its capacity to routes experiencing expanding demand as part of our larger strategy for growth and increased efficiency within the airline,” said Theunis Potgieter, SAA general manager commercial.
“A thorough analysis of the route made it clear that we could use our aircraft more profitably elsewhere while continuing to ensure excellent business and tourism links between the Western Cape and the UK with our significant capacity via Johannesburg.”
SAA Cargo will reroute airfreight between London and Cape Town via Johannesburg without impacting on exporters who need to get their products to market rapidly.