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SAA plans to add Abidjan to list of African Destinations

South African Airways recently announced the launch of service Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire, its 12th destination on the African continent. The route, which is in line with the airline’s plans to grow its footprint in Africa, will be operated via Accra using its Airbus A330-300. Bookings should open for sale as from 28th September 2023, with the launch of the first flight out of Johannesburg planned for Tuesday, 14 November 2023.

SAA plans to fly to Félix Houphouët Boigny International Airport in Abidjan three times a week, departing Johannesburg on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 11h00 and arriving in Abidjan at 17h00, with a 55-minute stopover in Accra.

SAA joins Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways and Air Côte d'Ivoire who already service this route with vastly varying flight times, Ethiopian Airlines flies via Addis Ababa and has a total travel time of 17 hours. Kenya Airways manage to cut that down to 12 hours with a stop in Nairobi. Air Côte d'Ivoire complete the trip between OR Tambo International Airport and Abidjan's Félix-Houphouët-Boigny International Airport in under eight hours, which includes a refuelling stop in Kinshasa. SAA claim they will cut the flight to just 6 hours with a stop in Accra. The route has historically not been profitable so one has to question the rationale behind reinstating an unprofitable sector when the airline is still not on a stable financial footing.

SAA Chief Commercial Officer, Mr Tebogo Tsimane, however, says the new route is exciting news for SAA and brings its destinations on the African continent up to 12. “The Abidjan route is an integral component of our West Africa expansion strategy.” He says the schedule of flights is suitable for leisure and business travellers. “It also allows Voyager members yet another opportunity to earn miles, at one SAA Voyager mile for every R1.60 they spend.”

In addition, this route will also provide an airfreight link between Accra, Abidjan and Johannesburg therefore enhancing the trade links between these three major cities with the rest of the SAA network.

Known as the Paris of Africa, Abidjan is well known for its coffee, cocoa, timber, bananas, pineapples, and manganese exports. The third-largest French-speaking city in the world, it offers leisure and business travellers a wealth of sites to explore such as St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Musée des Civilisations de Côte d'Ivoire, the Jardin botanique de Bingerville and the Abokouamekro National Park.

Interim CEO, Professor John Lamola, says, “Adding Abidjan to its route schedule is another feather in SAA’s cap. Located on the West Coast of Africa, Abidjan is also an ideal location for connecting traffic to European destinations. Lamola added, “Our decision to implement a service to Abidjan is based on a rigorous analysis of the viability of the route, with sustainability at the heart of our strategic approach since our restart.”



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