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Brief history

A short history of South African Airways

Over 80 years of excellence and innovation have propelled South African Airways (SAA) to become Africa’s leading carrier. The following timeline features select highlights of our reputable history.

 
 

The history of South African Airways dates back to 1 February 1934, when the South African government took over the assets and liabilities of Union Airways. The airline was renamed South African Airways (SAA), and fell under the control of the South African Railways and Harbour administration.

On 1 November 1934, SAA introduced Junkers Ju 52/3m, the first multi-engine aircraft, which was used on domestic flights. During the 30s, the airline steadily acquired more planes, including the first 10-seater Junkers Ju 86s, DC-3s, Constellation L-749As, Lockheed Lodestar, DC-7Bs Vickers Viscounts and the Boeing 707.

The outbreak of World War II resulted in SAA being divided into two wings: a defence wing controlled by the Department of Defence and a commercial wing controlled by the Administration. The entire fleet and 22% of its personnel were taken over by the Department of Defence.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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