Tag Archives: Airlink (South African Airlink)

Qatar Airways and Airlink sign a comprehensive codeshare agreement

Qatar Airways and Airlink have signed a comprehensive codeshare agreement to offer travellers more choices, enhanced services and greater connectivity between 45 destinations in 13 countries across southern Africa and the rest of the world.

This new codeshare agreement means travellers can enjoy the simplicity of purchasing connecting flights on both airlines using a single reservation with seamless ticketing, check-in, boarding and baggage-check experience, during the entire journey.

The partnership will enable customers to book attractive offers from southern Africa to popular destinations in the U.S. such as New York and Dallas, cities in Europe such as London, Copenhagen and Barcelona, and points across Asia like Manila, Jakarta and Cebu. The agreement also increases Qatar Airways’ footprint in southern Africa, with improved access to destinations such as Ggeberha (Port Elizabeth) Hoedspruit, Skukuza, George in South Africa and beyond to Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Qatar Airways was the only airline to launch new services in southern Africa after the pandemic, starting operations to Luanda, Harare and Lusaka last year. It resumes operations to Windhoek this month, providing another connection to Airlink’s extensive regional network via eight gateways in the region.

The new codeshare flights are available for sales and will commence travel on July 6, 2022 subject to government approval.

Qatar Airways offers 21 direct weekly flights from Doha to Johannesburg, 10 weekly flights to Cape Town and four weekly flights to Durban. From South Africa, travellers can connect easily to destinations across six continents via the World’s Best Airport, Hamad International Airport.

Airlink’s history:



Business partners Rodger Foster and Barrie Webb successfully bid for liquidated Link Airways. The new airline is named Airlink.

Airlink 1992


“SA Airlink” is officially launched on 25 March at a gathering of important guests, including Queen Elizabeth II. SA Airlink brand aligns with that of SAA and SA Airlink joins the Voyager frequent flier loyalty programme.


SA Airlink joins SAA and SA Express in a strategic alliance that leads to the establishment of the leading aviation network in Africa. SA Airlink and SA Express adopt the “South African” franchise brand.


Swaziland Airlink is formed as a joint venture company between Airlink and the Swaziland (now Eswatini) government.


On 3 April, SA Airlink officially opens the Kruger Park Gateway Airport in Phalaborwa. On 30 August, the franchise agreement between SAA and SA Airlink is signed as a bilateral relationship.


SA Airlink commences air services to Antananarivo in Madagascar.


SA Airlink changes its corporate identity, adopting the brand “Airlink” emphasising the airline’s corporate positioning statement, ‘Freedom of the African Sky’ and displaying the distinctive South African national colours of blue, red, green and gold, along with the brightly coloured sunbird emblem. Airlink’s badging, while distinctly different from the franchise brand, demonstrates clear alignment with SAA’s “South African” brand.



SA Airlink, having successfully completed the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), is placed on the IATA Register on 6 February, assuring customers of the highest possible standard of service.


In October, SA Airlink moves into its new head office in Greenstone Hill Office Park, Modderfontein.


In December, the Airports Company SA (ACSA) presents four Feather Awards to SA Airlink in recognition of consistent service excellence at ACSA airports.


In June, SA Airlink sells a 32.51% stake of the company in a landmark broad-based black economic empowerment transaction. In December, ACSA presents six Feather Awards to SA Airlink in recognition of consistent service excellence at ACSA airports.


In March, SA Airlink commences direct services between Johannesburg and Kasane and between Johannesburg and Vilanculos, bringing the total number of destinations in the SA Airlink network to 31. On 11 June, Airlink celebrates 21 years in the aviation industry. At this point, SA Airlink has a turnover of more than two billion rand, employs about 1,000 staff, and carries one million-plus customers annually.


SA Airlink launches the return of scheduled air services between Cape Town and Johannesburg to Skukuza Airport, allowing direct access to globally renowned wildlife destinations in the Kruger Park and nearby Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve.

Airlink Skukuza airport


SA Airlink becomes the first domestic airline to offer scheduled flights between Cape Town and the then recently refurbished Wonderboom Airport in Pretoria.


SA Airlink signs an agreement with the government of Madagascar to operate domestic air services within Madagascar and regional air services between Madagascar and key states within Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands. SA Airlink, in partnership with Embraer, opens the Airlink Training Centre in Bonaero Park.

Airlink training centre


SA Airlink celebrates its 25th anniversary under the same leadership, and the 50th anniversary of one of its root airlines, Lowveld Air Services, which started in 1967. In June, SA Airlink is chosen by the St Helena Government as its preferred bidder to provide a scheduled airline service to the island.
In August, the first of the airline’s new Embraer E-190 E-Jets begin operating on routes to Pietermaritzburg and Bulawayo. In December, ACSA presents Feather Awards to SA Airlink in recognition of Best Performing Regional Airline and Best Performing Domestic Airline.


SA Airlink and FlySafair conclude negotiations for a merger/acquisition by SA Airlink of FlySafair. The application for authorisation to proceed is turned down by the Competitions Commission on the grounds that the Competitions Commission believes that SA Airlink and FlySafair are competitors.
The matter is referred to the Tribunal, but before arguments are presented the application is withdrawn as the objectives of the shareholders of SA Airlink and FlySafair had diverged.
In December, the Airports Company SA (ACSA) presents a Feather Award to SA Airlink in recognition of Best Performing Regional Airline.


SA Airlink establishes its high-tech training centre of excellence in conjunction with Embraer, housing both an Embraer E190 and an Embraer ERJ145 simulator. These simulators operate up to five training slots per day and greatly assist in the cognitive, associative and autonomous stages of pilot training.

Airlink training centre


SA Airlink terminates its 23-year franchise agreement with South African Airways (SAA) after SAA enters business rescue, defaults on its agreements with SA Airlink, and stops operating.

SA Airlink resumes operations during COVID-19 lockdown level 3, operating on its own 4Z flight code, and terminates its 23-year franchise agreement with South African Airways (SAA) after SAA enters business rescue, defaults on its agreements with SA Airlink, and stops operating. SA Airlink re-defines its business model as an independent comprehensive airline network incorporating all keys destinations within South Africa and Southern Africa.


SA Airlink resumes operations during COVID-19 lockdown level 3, operating on its own 4Z flight code. SA Airlink re-defines its business model as an independent comprehensive airline network incorporating all keys destinations within South Africa and Southern Africa.

SA Airlink establishes itself as the most comprehensive airline network system in Southern Africa, offering more connections to key cities within Africa and the world by way of interconnectivity within its own network and with the networks of its partner airlines. SA Airlink introduces flights to new destinations, including Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, East London, George, Dar es Salaam, Windhoek, Lubumbashi, Luanda and Maputo.

Qatar Airways and Emirates sign interline agreements with Airlink that will provide passengers with seamless connectivity via Cape Town and Johannesburg to more than 45 destinations within Southern Africa.

In September SA Airlink (Pty) Ltd changes its corporate name to Airlink (Pty) Ltd to align the company with its trade name and brand “Airlink” that had been in use since 2005.

On 12 November, Airlink unveils its new livery and its new tail insignia, clearly proclaiming its status as an independent airline.

Airlink route map:

Airlink aircraft photo gallery:

Qatar Airways aircraft photo gallery:

Airlink to acquire Safair, the brands will remain separate if approved

Airlink (South African Airlink) BAe RJ85 ZS-SSJ (msn E2385) JNB (TMK Photography). Image: 920116.

Airlink and Safair, two independent South African aviation groups, on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 will apply to South Africa’s Competition Commission for approval to unite under the common umbrella of the Airlink group of companies.

The proposal sees the Airlink and low-cost FlySafair (below) airlines and Safair’s other businesses, including humanitarian aid flights, continuing to operate separately under their unique brands.

Airline Color Scheme - Introduced 2013

Above Copyright Photo: FlySafair (Safair) Boeing 737-4Y0 ZS-JRD (msn 24917) JNB (Rob Finlayson). Image: 928163.

The airlines will retain their respective products, aircraft fleets, management and leadership teams. Employees will be secure with no job losses because of the consolidation.

“Airlink’s acquisition of Safair, which is financially robust and profitable, makes good business sense. It presents opportunities to reduce our combined costs, position ourselves for growth while at the same time increasing connectivity and choice while making air travel accessible and affordable for our customers across Southern Africa,” explained Airlink CEO and Managing Director, Rodger Foster.

“Our combined networks will enable us to connect 37 destinations in nine Southern African & Indian Ocean countries and St. Helena. This will stimulate and enable trade, tourism, economic growth and social development in those markets we serve,” added Foster

“Coming under a single umbrella will create economies of scale that will enable both airlines to share costs, optimise assets and remove systems duplications.  This will position the new Airlink Group for future growth,” said Elmar Conradie, who will remain as Safair CEO.

In addition, the proposed new ownership structure will see Airlink continue to meet – and in future exceed – South Africa’s Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment targets.

The Safair purchase will not affect Airlink’s existing SAA franchise partnership, which continues to deliver traffic and business to SAA and Airlink while their customers benefit from the value, convenience and connectivity the arrangement provides.

As part of its continued commitment to the aviation industry within South Africa, Safair shareholder ASL Aviation Holdings will become a minority shareholder of the Airlink Group of companies.  ASL Aviation Holdings is a global aviation group with 6 European and 2 Asian airlines in addition to its South African interests.

More details will be provided when the Competition Commission has made its determination, which we anticipate will be during Q1 2018.

About Airlink

Airlink was established in 1992 and is the leading regional airline in Southern Africa. It has a route network of 37 destinations in nine African countries and St. Helena..

About Safair

Safair Operations was established in 1965 and has been a leader in the provision of specialised aviation services for the past 52 years. In 2014 the company launched FlySafair, a low-cost carrier competing in South Africa’s domestic market.

Top Copyright Photo: The remaining RJ85s should be replaced and retired by late 2019. Airlink (South African Airlink) BAe RJ85 ZS-SSJ (msn E2385) JNB (TMK Photography). Image: 920116.


Bottom Copyright Photo: Safair Boeing 737-3Y0 (F) ZS-SMJ (msn 23500) SHJ (Michael Stappen). Image: 905778.

Safair Boeing 737-3Y0 (F) ZS-SMJ (msn 23500) SHJ (Michael Stappen). Image: 905778.

Airlink to replace its Avro RJ85s with new Embraer E170s and E190s

RJ85s to be replaced with new Embraer E170s and E190s by 2020

Airlink, Southern Africa’s largest independent regional airline, is joining the E-Jet operator’s family. The airline is acquiring five E-Jets – three E170s and two E190s, from ECC Leasing, a wholly-owned Embraer subsidiary. Airlink will start to receive the aircraft in the first half of 2017.

Airlink already operates a large fleet of ERJ aircraft – last December, the airline started to add 11 further ERJ 140 jets to its fleet. By the end of the fourth quarter of 2017, the airline will be operating 30 ERJs, comprising all three types – ERJ 135, ERJ 140 and the ERJ 145.

Rodger Foster, CEO of Airlink, said, “This is the beginning of the implementation of a well planned growth and modernization strategy for Airlink that includes replacing our current fleet of Avro RJ85s over the next three years. The strategy calls for a total of 13 E-Jets, and we are in the process of sourcing the balance of the fleet requirement – an additional 8 E190s – from the market.”

Copyright Photo: Airlink (South African Airlink) BAe RJ85 ZS-ASY (msn E2316) JNB (Michael Stappen). Image: 906856.