South African Airways (SAA) is the largest domestic and international airline company in the whole of South Africa. Its headquarters are located in Airways Park, which is on the grounds of the OR Tambo International Airport. The company flies to 37 destinations worldwide, and has hubs in both Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Before South African Airways, there was the Union Airways, which the South African government bought and was given its current name in 1934. The company’s growth was relatively slow, being heavily effected by WWII. However, in 1945, SAA achieved a longtime company goal; operating a route through to Europe.
In the 1950s, the Boeing 707 was implemented, followed by several newer models of the “jet age”. Further advances happened regularly until the 1970s, where even though the airline was steadily growing; the effects of apartheid were starting to show regarding the international status of the airline. The U.S. Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 banned all flights by South African-owned carriers including SAA. In 1987, SAA’s services to Perth and Sydney were ended, due to Australia’s opposition to apartheid.
In more recent years, SAA launched a restructuring, which was aimed to ensure that all employees are skilled up to date with current international standards, and to resize the business to make it more profitable.
SAA flies to five domestic destinations and 32 international destinations in 26 countries and along with British Airways, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways and United Airlines – is one of only nine airlines that fly to all six inhabited continents.