30 March 2015
South African Airways’ first flight to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates departed on Sunday, the airline said in a media statement.
“SAA’s first flight, SA 278, to Abu Dhabi departed this morning [Sunday] at 9.30am and arrived at 8.25pm local time in Abu Dhabi. The daily service sees frequencies between Johannesburg and Abu Dhabi double with partner Etihad Airways continuing its seven weekly departures,” said SAA on Sunday.
The new network addition will also see SAA’s intercontinental reach expand significantly through the carrier’s onward codeshare partnership with Etihad Airways.
The service is operated by a two-cabin Airbus A330-200 aircraft, configured to carry 36 passengers in business class and 186 in economy class.
It is estimated that there are more than 200 South African companies doing business in the UAE and trade between the countries passed the R20-billion mark in 2013, SAA said.
The UAE is considered one of South Africa’s top 10 emerging export partners. South African exports to the UAE rose from R5.2-billion in 2009 to more than R11-billion in 2013. It is also estimated that more than 50 000 South African nationals now work and live in the region.
SAA and Etihad Airways first signed a codeshare agreement in 2013. “Our deepening relationship not only sees both airlines enjoy network expansion through code-sharing, but together we are exploring means to share knowledge and best practice across a wide variety of aviation related and commercial matters,” said Nico Bezuidenhout, SAA’s acting chief executive officer.
The airline said that business and leisure travellers would now be able to choose from multiple flight options between Johannesburg and Abu Dhabi on the same day.
More than 1 000 connections will also be offered each week over Etihad Airways’ Abu Dhabi hub to key markets including the Middle East, Indian subcontinent, and North and South East Asia including China.
The airlines have also significantly expanded their codeshare agreement to include a total of 51 routes, more than double the previous number.
“Aviation plays an important role not only in the movement of people and goods but, as an economic growth and development catalyst, and the new service will support this,” said Bezuidenhout.