South African Airways is to cut one of its twice-daily flights between London Heathrow and Johannesburg from Friday 20 April 2018.
Flight SA237, which departs London Heathrow at 21:00, will last operate from London Heathrow on Thursday 19 April 2018.
The state-owned (and reportedly loss-making) airline has taken the sting out of the announcement by saying that the one remaining fight (SA235) will be operated by a new Airbus A330-300 aircraft from Sunday 25 March 2017. This two class aircraft features upgraded business class seating (pictured above) with direct aisle access for all passengers. Currently, both South African Airways flights from London are operated with Airbus A330-200 aircraft.
South African Airways will be leasing its Heathrow slot pair to an as yet unnamed airline which does allow them to reinstate the flight if circumstances change.
This is not the first time South African Airways has cut flights from London Heathrow. It previously suspended London Heathrow – Cape Town, which after Virgin Atlantic also suspended its seasonal service, left the route exclusively to BA. Cape Town is a destination to which BA can dispatch no less than 3 Boeing 747s from London Heathrow on some days in the winter.
Back to Johannesburg, this move does leave both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic in a stronger position in the route. The former is able to operate 2 Airbus A380s a day between London Heathrow and Johannesburg in the winter season.
To give a comparison, in the winter season, South African Airways will operate 249 seats each way between London Heathrow and Johannesburg, whereas BA will offer 938 seats each way across 2 Airbus A380s.
London Heathrow – Johannesburg (from Friday 20 April 2018)
Flight SA235 Depart London Heathrow 19:00 – Arrive Johannesburg 07:05 (Daily, Airbus A330-300)
Flight SA235 Depart Johannesburg 20:00 – Arrive London Heathrow 06:25 (Daily, Airbus A330-300)