South African Airways will be mixing up their US route network soon, as they cut flights to Dakar and increase flights to Accra.
South African Airways’ current US route network
South African Airways has two destinations in the US — New York JFK and Washington Dulles.
They take different approaches on these two routes, though:
- They fly nonstop between New York and Johannesburg, using A340 aircraft; soon they’ll acquire some A350s, which will be used primarily for this route
- They fly between Washington and Johannesburg using A330s with an intermediate stop in each direction; 5x weekly they route via Accra, Ghana, and 2x weekly they route via Dakar, Senegal
Well, it looks like South African Airways will soon be mixing up their network.
SAA cuts Dakar, increases Accra
As of next month, South African Airways will fly daily to Washington via Accra. This is coming at the expense of the Dakar to Washington route, which will operate for the last time on September 1, 2019.
Note that South African Airways is phrasing this as a “route suspension,” though without a date being named for when the route would resume, I think it’s questionable if/when that will actually happen.
With this change, Delta will be the only airline to fly nonstop between the US & Senegal anymore, as they fly 2x weekly from New York JFK.
So, what’s the motivation behind this?
- The Washington DC area has a much bigger population from Ghana than Senegal
- South African Airways has a partnership with Africa World Airlines, providing feed in the region beyond Accra (including to Abuja and Lagos in Nigeria, and Freetown in Sierra Leone
As executives from South African Airways and World Africa Airlines explain:
Welcoming these developments, SAA’s Acting CEO, Zuks Ramasia, stated: “One of the key pillars of our strategy is to connect South Africa to West Africa and beyond to North America. Our partnership with Africa World Airlines (AWA) continues to deepen with these new schedules and benefits customers across the African Continent.”
Sean Mendis, Chief Operating Officer at Africa World Airlines, is in agreement: “Expanding our co-operation with SAA means that passengers can enjoy quick and seamless connections between AWA and SAA flights in Accra’s new Terminal 3.”
The service via Accra will continue to operate with the following schedule:
SA209 Johannesburg to Accra departing 6:30PM arriving 10:35PM
SA209 Accra to Washington departing 11:35PM arriving 6:25AM (+1 day)
SA210 Washington to Accra departing 5:40PM arriving 8:10AM (+1 day)
SA210 Accra to Johannesburg departing 9:10AM arriving 4:55PM
This eliminates one award chart sweet spot
While fairly niche, there is an interesting award travel angle here. The discontinuation of the Washington to Dakar route means the end of a great award chart sweet spot. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is partners with South African Airways.
While they charge 55,000 miles for a one-way business class ticket from Washington to Accra, they charge just 25,000 miles for a one-way business class ticket from Washington to Dakar. That will no longer be possible.
With South African Airways “suspending” their Washington to Dakar route, nonstop capacity between the US and Senegal is being halved, as only Delta is flying 2x weekly between New York and Dakar at this point.