Airlink is a privately-owned, BBBEE Level 4 business and regional airline serving a comprehensive network of smaller destinations throughout Southern Africa. We are now operating independently under our own unique 4Z flight code offering more freedom, more choices and more travel opportunities.
When you see the sunbird icon on our aircraft, think Airlink. You’ll know that you’re travelling with Southern Africa’s largest (measured by flight movements) independent airline.
Airlink has more than 50 commercial jetliners operating throughout Southern Africa. In 2019 we carried 2 million customers on more than 63 000 flights, on 55 routes to 39 destinations in nine African countries and St Helena Island. Our passenger profile represents 40% leisure and 60% business.
Airlink’s on time performance is consistently better than 95% and this is a clear indication of our determination and commitment to remain synonymous with customer centricity, punctuality, service excellence and reliability. Airlink is proudly the most on time South African airline for 2020 as measured by the Airport’s Company of South Africa.
Airlink is a member of IATA - The International Air Transport Association and is IOSA (IATA Operational Safety Audit program) accredited. IATA is the trade association for airlines across the globe. IATA supports many areas of aviation activity and help formulate industry policy on critical aviation issues. IATA assists airlines to operate safely, securely, efficiently and economically under clearly defined rules. Airlink is IOSA conformant and have been since 2006.
Airlink's origins are rooted in three small airlines, Magnum Airlines, Border Air and City Air, which merged to form Link Airways in the '80s. Subsequently, Link Airways was liquidated in 1992. After Rodger Foster and Barrie Webb, the two founders, had successfully bid for the business, they named the newly acquired airline 'Airlink'.
When Airlink was first formed, no one within the company could have imagined that the small, fledgling airline would one day grow into the largest independent regional airline in southern Africa, linking passengers to the smaller towns, cities and regional centres than any other local airline.
Airlink’s growth path includes the acquisition of some smaller competitors such as Air Midlands and Metavia. Back in 1992, when it officially commenced operating, the airline’s head count was a meagre 32. Today, Airlink’s staff complement is around 1,000 people. In 1992, only a motley fleet of twin-prop Metroliners and Chieftains was flying the Airlink colours, offering a total capacity of only 25,000 seats per year.
In 1995 Airlink officially launched its new J41 aircraft fleet on 25 March at an August gathering of important guests including Queen Elizabeth II. Today, Airlink boasts a fleet exceeding 30 aircraft, including its flagship fleet of 10 four-engine British Aerospace Avro RJ85s, which accommodate 83 passengers each. The airline currently carries more than one million passengers annually by way of 35,000 flight missions. Airlink is proud to note that, despite fluctuations in the country’s economy, it has shown growth in every single year of its existence.
In 1997 SA Airlink joined South African Airways and South African Express in a powerful strategic alliance which led to the establishment of the leading aviation network in Africa. SAA and its regional partner, Airlink continues their existing partnership. The long term plan for the relationship is to form an alliance, which will allow Airlink to grow in all markets. Airlink will have the opportunity to serve any route domestic and regional which is commercially viable to it.
Airlink's success over the past years is fully attributable to the commitment, dedication and enthusiasm of the Airlink staff, the travel trade, and Airlink's suppliers and customers, who have supported Airlink through some tough challenges over the years. "Airlink has been truly fortunate in having stakeholders of the highest calibre, from our support staff on the ground to our flight crews in the air, including our shareholders," says Foster. "In addition, on behalf of Airlink, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to the travel industry for their loyalty and support, and to our millions of valued customers, for helping Airlink grow continuously over the past 21 years to the solid robust airline it has become at our coming of age," concludes Foster.
Airlink has over many years relentlessly pursued an aggressive intra-SADC regional expansion programme, establishing a comprehensive network of strategically important destinations within South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Swaziland, Mozambique, Botswana, Madagascar and Lesotho. In all, Airlink services more than 30 destinations throughout southern Africa, with more routes in the pipeline.
In 1999 Swaziland Airlink was formed as a joint venture company between the Swaziland Government and Airlink to take over operations, from Royal Swazi National Airways Corporation, as the national carrier of Swaziland. Swaziland Airlink, the pride of the kingdom, provides direct and convenient daily return scheduled jet flights from Manzini to Johannesburg. Swaziland Airlink offers seamless interline connections with Airlink, SAA and its partner flights around the world. Qualify for free travel by earning Voyager Miles through flying on Swaziland Airlink.
On 3 April 2000, Airlink officially opens the Kruger Park Gateway Airport in Phalaborwa. Phalaborwa, the true gateway to both game and golf, is the central gate to the world's most famous nature reserve, the Kruger National Park. The airport is situated approx 2 km from the Phalaborwa Gate, providing easy access to the northern camps such as Letaba, Olifants, Mopani, Shingwedzi and Punda Maria as well as many famous private game lodges. Admire the Park by open 4x4 vehicle, or take a safari on the Olifants River amongst hippos, crocodiles and other wildlife. A bush walk offers a close encounter with the habitat of the Parks wildlife.
In January 2006 something new took flight, Airlink - formerly SA Airlink - did not only change its name but corporate identity too, giving you the freedom of flying to the smaller and regional centres and cities throughout Southern Africa. To achieve this essential objective, our new corporate identity programme clearly represents the concept of flight, graphically emphasising the airlines corporate positioning statement, "Freedom of the African Sky". And clearly positions Airlink as being "Proudly South African", with our tail displaying the distinctive national colours of blue, red, green and gold. It also uniquely features the brightly coloured and popular "Sunbird" found flying throughout the African Continent.
Airlink new advertising campaign embraces, the dream of flight that has long captured our imaginations, as children we would extend our arms like wings and run about without a care in the world ... and that's exactly the message we want to communicate to our passengers - spread your wings and fly with Airlink.
Airlink successfully completed the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) and were placed on the IATA Register on 6 February 2008. So you're assured of the highest possible standard of service whenever and wherever you fly Airlink. The airline is continually setting benchmarks in operational safety and reliability through superior standards of professionalism, efficiency and a strong focus on customer service delivery.
In October 2009 Airlink moves into their new head office based in Greenstone Hill Office Park, Modderfontein.
Airlink Cargo a division of SA Airlink (Pty) Ltd is a dedicated cargo ground handling company. It has three trading divisions: the domestic ground handling division which provides cargo services for South African Airlink; the international ground handling division providing services for three airlines; and the specialised clearing and forwarding division for their own airline’s spares shipments.
In December 2011, the Airports Company SA (ACSA) presents four Feather Awards to Airlink in recognition of consistent service excellence at ACSA airports. ACSA presents six Feather Awards to Airlink in recognition of consistent service excellence at ACSA airports in December 2012.
In June 2012, a 32.51% stake of the company changed hands in a landmark broad-based black economic empowerment transaction. The new investor is the Sishen Iron Ore Company Community Development Trust ('SIOC-cdt'), which made the acquisition through its investment arm, Sishen Iron Ore Company Community Development Trust Investment Holdings.
11 June 2013, Airlink celebrates 21 years in the aviation industry. Today, Airlink has a turnover of more than two billion Rand, employs about 1,000 staff, and carries one million-plus customers annually.
02 June 2014, Airlink launched the return of scheduled air services between Cape Town and Johannesburg to Skukuza Airport, this was momentous in the context of South African tourism as this has allowed all tourism stakeholders and tourists the ability to gain direct access to a variety of important and globally renowned wildlife destinations within the Kruger Park and nearby Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, thereby providing a far more integrated and effective leisure travel product to the global market. The airport is managed by the Skukuza Airport Management Company, in conjunction with SANParks, in terms of a 10 year Public Private Partnership agreement.
16 August 2015, Airlink becomes the first domestic airline (it’s still the only non-charter option for that route) to offer scheduled flights between Cape Town and the then recently refurbished Wonderboom Airport in Pretoria.
Airlink signed an agreement with the government of Madagascar. Working with a partner there to amend air services licenses, establish Air Operating Certificates, and all the rest, and that service will be running in Madagascar as an extension of the Airlink business – hopefully from later this year onwards.
11 June 2017, Airlink celebrates its 25th anniversary under the same leadership and the 50th anniversary of one of our roots Lowveld Air Services started in 1967. Today, Airlink has 46 aircraft, a turnover of more than three billion Rand, and employs approximately 1,350 staff.
In December 2017, the Airports Company SA (ACSA) presented Feather Awards to Airlink in recognition of Best Performing Regional Airline and Best Performing Domestic Airline.
In December 2018, the Airports Company SA (ACSA) presented a Feather Award to Airlink in recognition of Best Performing Regional Airline.
We are committed to the optimisation of regional air transportation by providing exceptional quality service to all our passengers.
We are committed to providing seamless interline connections with our partner flights around the world, in particular, linking smaller communities to the major hubs of commerce and industry.
Punctuality is our most important service delivery criteria.
To realise our vision of an extensive network spanning many regional capitals, smaller communities and major cities, we will work together with our alliance partners.
We are driven by the needs and feelings of our passengers and will keep on refining our service to their satisfaction.
We will set benchmarks in safety, on-time performance and reliability through professionalism and enhanced productivity.
We never lose sight of the importance of our profitability and will do what needs to be done to optimise viability and create wealth for all our stakeholders.
We are determined to remain South Africa´s leading Regional Feeder Airline. We aspire to being a role model to the industry.
BENEFITS OF FLYING AIRLINK
More than 55 routes.
More than 50 aircraft in the fleet, ability to swop aircraft in the event of a delay.
Airlink will never cancel a flight.
More than 1.9 m customers per year.
60 000 scheduled flights per annum.
Punctuality consistently at 95%.
Widest network and choice of flights.
Financially independent and not reliant on State Subvention for subsistence.
Consistently and responsibly profitable during its 28 years of operations.
Intra-continental styled business class on select routes and flights.
Member of IATA (International Air Transportation Association) and IOSA (IATA Operational Safety Audit programme) accredited.
400 aircraft engineers and maintenance specialists.
Largest fleet of commercial jet airliners in southern Africa.
450 Airlink flight deck and cabin crews, of whom 250 are proudly female.
Our Investors and Owners
We are privately owned, financially independent and not reliant on State Subvention for subsistence. This includes our 350,000 previously disadvantaged families from the Sishen, Sishen South and Thabazimbi areas.
We have been consistently and responsibly profitable during 28 years of operations.
Our Network and destinations – Southern Africa’s largest
We are the largest regional feeder airline in our sub region, operating an extensive network of more than 55 routes which in addition to 19 South African cities and towns includes services to Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Madagascar, Lesotho and Swaziland as well as to the remote island of St Helena in the South Atlantic. We have more than 1.9 million customers and 60 000 scheduled flights per annum. With the widest network and choice of flights, and the largest fleet of commercial jet airliners in southern Africa, our customers enjoy intra-continental styled business class on select routes and flights.
Aircraft fleet and maintenance
We have a fleet of more than 50 aircraft, 80% of which are regional jet airliners. Having this amount of aircraft means that we are able to swap aircraft to recover schedule in the event of a delay. Our fleet of aircraft are supported and maintained by a dedicated team of 400 aircraft engineers and specialists located at various key nodes within South Africa including 3 hangar complexes at OR Tambo International airport.
We employ a team of 450 flight deck and cabin crews, of whom 250 are proudly female. They are trained in our own state-of-the-art Flight Training Centre located in Bonaero Park, Johannesburg. The complex includes 3 aircraft simulators, cabin trainers and other procedural aids and classrooms providing the opportunity for comprehensive training from early ab initio crews starting their careers in flying to bi-annual recurrent/refresher training as well as type training as a part of career progression.
Airlink flights are rarely late and never cancelled
We understand that our customer’s most important criteria for choosing Airlink over other operators is punctuality. Airlink is consistently ranked as one of the two top airlines for on-time operation in
South Africa’s skies. In 2019 more than 92% of Airlink’s flights departed on-time (an independent measure applied by ACSA - the Airports Company of South Africa). 2020 is no different and we currently have a punctuality rate of 95%. We know that to cancel a flight without there being very sound reasons, outside of the airline’s direct control to do so, is extremely distressing to our customers because of the disruption it causes to their travel plans.
Safety, Reliability and Quality
We are a member of IATA (International Air Transport Association) and is IOSA (IATA Operational Safety Audit program) accredited. We are IOSA conformant and have been since 2006.
We are certified level 4 BBBEE. You can view our BBBEE certificate here.
Airlink to Operate Independently on “4Z” Flight Code From 20 April 2020
Airlink, the South African-based domestic and regional airline, is suspending all operations after midnight on Thursday, 26 March 2020 in support of South Africa’s lock-down to slow and contain the spread of the COVID-19 “Coronavirus”.
We had already planned to operate independently using our own flight code “4Z” from 11 June 2020, this will now be brought forward to 20 April 2020 as we resume our schedule.
We intend to gradually reinstate a new optimised schedule of services once the lock-down has been lifted. Whilst the restrictions are currently intended to last for 21 days, we will take our cue from the Government and the relevant health authorities. Our target date for recommencing operations will be 20 April 2020 and we will continue to keep our Customers, Travel Agents and Operators informed should unforeseen circumstances necessitate a change to this date.
What the changes mean for ticket holders:
The last date for the acceptance for travel on Airlink SA8 flights for passengers holding SAA “083” tickets will be this Thursday 26 March 2020. Thereafter passengers will need to purchase a new ticket on Airlink – 4Z (749).
Holders of tickets for travel on SA8 after 26 March 2020 with a ticket number commencing with the digits “083” should contact SAA for a refund as SAA holds the funds paid in advance for these bookings on behalf of Customers. SAA refunds may be contacted on +27 11 978 1786 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Airlink SA8 flights will no longer feature after 26 March 2020.
Airlink has requested SAA to temporarily suspend the interline agreement which was implemented to facilitate the re-accommodation of current SAA bookings issued in conjunction with Airlink’s SA8 flights which were to have been re-accommodated onto Airlink’s “4Z” flights.
Airlink Customer Care team will be available in the lockdown period during office hours to assist passengers with queries about 4Z bookings at email@example.com.
We are still seeking clarity from the authorities on our ability to operate additional customer and agent telephonic support during the lockdown period.
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