South African Airways (SAA) is the flag carrier and largest airline of South Africa, with headquarters in Airways Park on the grounds of OR Tambo International Airport in Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng. The airline flies to 56 destinations worldwide, in partnership with SA Express, SA Airlink and its low cost carrier, Mango, within South Africa and across the continent, and nine intercontinental routes from its Johannesburg hub at OR Tambo International Airport, using a fleet of 54 aircraft. Thuli Mpshe was appointed as the acting CEO of SAA in August after Nico Bezuidenhout, the former acting CEO of SAA returned as CEO of Mango.
South African Airways was founded in 1934 after the acquisition of Union Airways by the South African government. The airline was initially overseen and controlled by South African Railways and Harbours Administration. Sanctions by African countries which would have otherwise provided stopover airports during apartheid forced it to adopt long-range aircraft and other measures to counter these restrictions. During this time, it was also known by its Afrikaans name, Suid-Afrikaanse Lugdiens (SAL), which has been dropped. In 1997 SAA changed its name, image and aircraft livery and introduced online ticketing services. In 2006, SAA split from Transnet, its parent company, to operate as an independent airline.
SAA is the official airline of the Association of Tennis Professionals. SAA owns Mango, a low cost domestic airline, and has established links with Airlink and South African Express. It currently operates as a member of the Star Alliance.