LONDON – The national carrier of South Africa, South African Airways will resume its flights to Malawi as of March 2023, according to airspace-africa.com.
The Star Alliance airline will fly twice weekly on flights between its primary hub at Johannesburg (JNB) – Blantyre (BLZ) – Lilongwe (LLW) – Johannesburg utilising the workhorse Airbus A320 aircraft.
This triangular route will provide the much-needed connection between the two African republics. The first flights are to operate on 16 March 2023.
The triangular route
The first leg of the three triangular flights will be flown as SA172, and is set to leave Johannesburg O.R Tambo International Airport at 10:10 am local time and will arrive at Blantyre at 12:30 pm.
There will be a brief tech stop at Blantyre before it departs on its third leg to the capital, Lilongwe at 1:20 pm, arriving at the final destination at 2:10 pm. The returning leg to Johannesburg will leave Lilongwe at 3:00 pm and will return to base at 5:40 pm.
Why the resumption? A business case or political call?
After a series of negotiations between South African Airways and Malawian officials, the triangular flight has been resumed, according to the CEO of South African Airways Professor John Lamola and Her Excellency Mrs Stella Ndau at the Malawi High Commission in Pretoria.
According to airspace-africa.com, Lamola voiced his support for the resumption of flights as South African Airways has been restructuring its business and also championing AFCTA (African Continental Free Trade Area) within Southern Africa.
The opening of such routes does support AFCTA’s initiative of ‘free trade and ‘ease of movement’ of goods and cargo. After all, is this route viable for the South African flag carrier? Only time will tell.
Moreover, the Malawian commissioner, Her Excellency Ndau also stated that her country will benefit hugely from the opening of the route, as this will contribute to the tourism and transport sectors.
The commissioner explained that the resumption will hugely benefit Malawi, as it is one of the most value-for-money holiday destinations in Southern Africa, and will aid Lilongwe in terms of economic recovery.
Recovering lost routes
The South African airline previously ceased the triangular route during the time of travel bans.
Until the upcoming re-start of the flight in March, travellers wishing to fly between the two southern African countries were left with two choices – Malawian Airlines or Ethiopian Airlines.
The resumption of the South African Airways service will give more options to travellers, with the hopes of bringing down airfares.
South African Airways has yet to fully restore its vast network of routes through of Southern Africa.
The airline stated that sales for flights have already commenced on the 6th of February 2023. Both the carrier and Malawi are expecting positive feedback for the route.