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Airlink Timeline


1992

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

Airlink 1992

1995

“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.

1997

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.

1999

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

2000

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.

2005

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.

2006

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.

Airlink

2008

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.

2009

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

2011

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

2012

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.

2013

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.

2014

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

2015

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

2016

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

2017

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.

2018

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.

2019

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

2020 - FIRST QUARTER

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.

2020 - SECOND QUARTER ONWARDS

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 Timeline

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