South African Airways (SAA) is launching a new service between Johannesburg and Guangzhou on September 18 that will see three weekly flights from its existing daily Hong Kong service shifted over in order to launch the new route.

The airline recently announced the new service to the southern Chinese city, a short high-speed train ride from Hong Kong, and will fly its Airbus A340-300 aircraft on both routes.

“The decision to launch this direct service between Johannesburg and Guangzhou means we remain on track in executing our strategy to transform SAA into a fit for the future airline that will operate both efficiently and competitively,” said CEO, Vuyani Jarana.

SAA will be the only carrier offering non-stop flights to the Guangdong province capital, with flights taking approximately 13 hours and 40 minutes.

“Adding a direct service to mainland China, combined with our current popular flights to Hong Kong, provides SAA with immense growth opportunities to and from mainland China. It also gives our traders access to the centre of Chinese manufacturing,” Jarana added.

The airline will continue to operate non-stop flights to Hong Kong out of Johannesburg on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, the airline’s online schedule shows, with Guangzhou services departing on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Flights out of Hong Kong to Johannesburg, meanwhile, will operate only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, while those out of Guangzhou will depart on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Below are the schedules for both routes after September 18, 2019:

Flight No. From To Departs Arrives Days
SA286 Johannesburg (JNB) Hong Kong (HKG) 1645 1150+1 Tue, Thu, Sat
SA286 Johannesburg (JNB) Hong Kong (HKG) 1735 1240+1 Mon
SA287 Hong Kong (HKG) Johannesburg (JNB) 2355 0705+1 Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun


Flight No. From To Departs Arrives Days
SA288 Johannesburg (JNB) Guangzhou (CAN) 1755 1340+1 Wed, Fri, Sun
SA289 Guangzhou (CAN) Johannesburg (JNB) 2225 0540+1 Mon, Thu, Sat

SAA’s A340-300, which will operate the Guangzhou and Hong Kong routes, is outfitted with two classes – Premium Class (business) and economy.

Premium Class offers a flat-bed seat, though unfortunately this is not the same as the new fully flat Vantage XL seats from Thompson Aero that are found on its A330s.

Rather, the A340-300 is configured with either 34 or 36 seats in the business class cabin laid out in a 2-2-2 set up, meaning not all passengers get unhindered access to the aisles.

SAA has interline agreements with China Southern Airlines, whose home base is Guangzhou, along with China Eastern, Air China and Hainan Airlines. China Southern relocated to the new Terminal 2 at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport last year.

Meanwhile, Guangzhou airport is also set to get a Star Alliance-branded lounge this year, which SAA passengers will be able to access.