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SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS: Direct Perth to Johannesburg flights return 28 April 2024

SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS: Direct Perth to Johannesburg flights return 28 April 2024

Having abandoned the route in the face of the pandemic and bankruptcy, South African Airways (SAA) is set to recommence its direct Perth/Johannesburg route on Sunday, 28 April 2024. Tickets are on sale now.

SAA has had a bumpy ride during the 2020s. As early as the end of 2019 – so before the pandemic formally arrived – the airline went into bankruptcy protection. Running at a loss since 2011, it had finally run out of money and was scheduled to close permanently a number of times. However by October 2020, the government decided to provide the money to resume operations.

By June 2021, the South African government had found a partner to help it with the airline – the Takatso Consortium. This allowed the continuation of domestic operations,a dn in 2023 the resumption of some international werivces including Sao Paulo in Brazil, and now Perth, Australia. London and Frankfurt are rumoured to be under discussion as further international destinations to commence in the coming months.

a person surfing on a wave
Promotional tile for the renewed Perth/Johannesburg route [South African Airways]

Perth/Johannesburg flights and frequency

The route will be operated six days per week, with the 11-hour flight altering direction on alternate days:

  • SA280 from Johannesburg 8:55 pm (Tues, Thur and Sun), arriving Perth 12.20 pm next day
  • SA281 from Perth 2:40 pm (Mon, Wed and Fri), arriving Johannesburg 7.35 pm same day

Tickets available now

Fares are available now and in May, will set you back around AU$ 6,820 in Business and AU$ 1,330 approx for return tickets. No other airline is flying direct currently. The closest in price is Singapore Airlines at about AU$ 300 more for Economy and another AU$ 1,000 in Business Class, with a travel time of 19 hours out and 16+ hours return to Perth. Contrast that with the 11 hours on the direct SAA trip from Perth and the 9.5-hour trip from Johannesburg.

a diagram of a seat
South African Airways Airbus A340-300 seating plan [South African Airways]

Aircraft and Luggage

Aircraft in both directions will be a long-range Airbus A340-300 in a two-class layout with 38 lie-flat Business Class seats in an outdated 2-2-2 layout and 215 seats in economy. Cabin and checked baggage depends on the fare paid. For Checked Baggage its one piece up to 23 kg for standard economy and one piece up to 32 kg for Business Class. For Cabin luggage, in Business Class, it’s 2 pieces up to 8 kg each plus a small personal item. In Economy, one piece up to 8 kg, and the same personal item.


In Perth, Business Class passengers and those with Star Alliance Gold status can access the Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines lounges. Check their opening times, though.

In Johannesburg, SAA is refurbishing its Platinum Lounge. Passengers should have access to The Lounge in the meantime. SAA also runs an Arrivals Lounge. Unfortunately, the SAA website is a little ambiguous about whether the Platinum Lounge is open or under renovation. 2PAXfly has requested clarification.

a woman in a blue uniform
South African Airways Business Class [South African Airways]

Qantas A380s will fly to Johannesburg

From 8 July 2024, Qantas will be using an A380 on the Sydney-Johannesburg route to replace the current Boeing 787 Dreamliner, but they won’t be guaranteed to run daily.

With the A380 – passengers will have access to First Class for this 14-hour flight. You can book these fares using points at Classic Reward rates of 142,300 points for one way on the QF63/64 flights. Classic Rewards for Qantas Business Class redeem at the rate of 94,900 one-way

First Class will also be available on the Sydney-Jo’burg flights, giving high flyers the opportunity to make this 14-hour trek in the greater comfort of the superjumbo’s ‘open’ suites.

However, the frequency of these flights will reduce, given the greater capacity of the A380. Expect it to drop back to between six and four times per week depending on time of year, aircraft availability and demand.

Qantas upgraded First Class Suites on the A380 [Schuetz/2PAXfly]
Qantas upgraded First Class Suites on the A380 [Qantas]

2PAXfly Takeout

Qantas has been banging on about re-opening its Perth to Johannesburg route. The best it managed was a short-lived service running from November 2022 to March 2023. It cited ‘border security and biosecurity screening requirements’ as the obstacle. Really its caught up with the whole Qantas delay to move its international operations at Perth Airport over to T1. Put simply, the airport and government services want to charge fees. Qantas doesn’t want to pay to keep operating the additional services at T3 which is the airline’s WA hub.

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