Lima From Argentina, joined May 1999, 1122 posts, RR: 16 Reply 2, posted (9 years 8 months 4 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 5319 times:
I have a copy of a SAA inflight magazine (Springbok) from I think 1987 or 88. On the news section there is a brief article stating that SAA incorporated its first black cabin crews. So apparently in the previous years it was not the case.
Also I read on a book once over commercial aviation that during the apartheid some SAA cabin crews were a sort of secret agents of the state intelligence service. They would be used to listen to conversations of passengers, sort of spies. I don't have the book with me or the author to confirm but could that be true?
JGPH1A From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 3, posted (9 years 8 months 4 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 5267 times:
One of the bizarre rule under apartheid was "international status" - any facility that was deemed to have "international status" was not segregated - this applied to major hotels and airlines and (I think) the airport (I can't remember).
This "international status" also applied to people of colour from outside South Africa, who were considered as "honorary whites". So no, SAA's aircraft were not segregated.
Tokolosh From Netherlands, joined Sep 2001, 359 posts, RR: 0 Reply 4, posted (9 years 8 months 4 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 5263 times:
SAA used to be nicknamed "Slow Around Africa" because it was not allowed to fly over Africa during the Apartheid era. Then there was an airline called Luxavia (not Luxair!) which was reportedly 90% owned by SAA which offered cheap flights to Europe flying over Africa (until they were caught out with spy camera's mounted in the aircraft's nose!).
Just a comment on Rednose's answer, black crew only began to appear in the dying years of apartheid. As to blacks traveling on SAA, this was a very rare sight since a) South African blacks didn't have passports and b) could not afford to fly in any case. Furthermore, if you did encounter a black person on an SAA flight it would most likely have been a government minister or official of a puppet homeland "state" who, incidentally, would have been on SA passports since no other country in the world recognised the homelands!!!
What a strange time it was.
RayChuang From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 7694 posts, RR: 5 Reply 6, posted (9 years 8 months 4 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 5131 times:
SAA used to fly from JNB/CPT to the Cape Verde Islands for a technical stop for fuel, then fly on to Europe. That's why SAA bought 747SP's so they could fly from Europe to JNB/CPT non-stop around the African continent.
ZSSNC From Germany, joined Feb 2003, 428 posts, RR: 10 Reply 8, posted (9 years 8 months 4 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 5007 times:
In addition to the already mentioned stops in SID and WDH, SAA also used to stop in LPA. But what I have heard is that during those times not even stops in those places were guaranteed for SAA so it was more or less a game of chance where the flight would make its fuel stop.
Airbus A340-600 - the longest temptation in the sky
DETA737 From Portugal, joined Oct 2000, 596 posts, RR: 0 Reply 9, posted (9 years 8 months 4 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 4974 times:
Until August of 1963 SAA operated flights over Africa via East Africa with stops in Nairobi. In that year the member states of the Organisation of African Unity banned South African or Portuguese aircraft from overflying their territory. With only hours notice SAA rerouted its flights without disruption or cancellation of any of its flights. Flights were originally routed via Luanda, Salisbury (Harare), Windhoek, Las Palmas or Sal. By 1973 non-stop flights to London were introduced with 747s. The independence of Angola in 1975 ended SAA's presence there, but within a year SAA would begin recieving 747SPs which would allow it to fly further. These flights made SAA's routes to Europe longer than their competitors that were allowed to overfly Africa.
On a sidenote, some African countries did allow SAA landing rights such as Botswana, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe. Here's a look at the flights that SAA operated to Europe in 1982 (all flights were operated with 747s):
These routings made SAA's flights considerably longer. For instance JNB-SID-LHR was exactly 2 hours longer than British Airway's JNB-NBO-LHR flight. The difference was even more dramatic on routes like JNB-LIS-ATH which was 6 hours longer than Olympic Airways' JNB-NBO-ATH service. Luckilly for SAA they had pooling agreements with many airlines that flew to South Africa including: Aerolineas Argentinas, Air Madagascar, Air Malawi, Air Rhodesia, Alitalia, British Airways, DETA, Iberia, KLM, Lesotho Airways, Lufthansa, Olympic Airways, Qantas, Royal Swazi Airways, Sabena, Swissair, TAP, UTA and Varig. These agreements helped them share revenue on certain routes. For instance I read an article from 1972 how SAA recieved substantial revenue from Olympic Airways because of the pooling agreement between the two carriers.
As for their segregation policies, I know that in the early 1960s JNB had seperate customs lines for whites and non-whites I'm not sure if this changed before 1991. SAA as far as I know was desegregated though I doubt many non-whites flew this airline.
Patroni From Luxembourg, joined Aug 1999, 1403 posts, RR: 15 Reply 10, posted (9 years 8 months 3 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 4846 times:
@ Tokolosh: Then there was an airline called Luxavia (not Luxair!) which was reportedly 90% owned by SAA which offered cheap flights to Europe flying over Africa (until they were caught out with spy camera's mounted in the aircraft's nose!).
If I recall right, it was not SAA but rather Trek Airways (also from South Africa) behind Luxavia. The aircraft (B707, A300, then 747SP) were registered in Luxembourg and operated in Luxair colours. As an officially Luxembourgish carrier they were allowed to fly over Africa rather than "around the bulge" like SAA.
I have never heard the story with the spy cameras. Do you have any source for that? Besides, considering the route from Europe to JNB, there is hardly anything to spy?
Tokolosh From Netherlands, joined Sep 2001, 359 posts, RR: 0 Reply 11, posted (9 years 8 months 3 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 4774 times:
There was some kind of relationship between Luxavia and Trek Airways but the planes were SAA's just painted in Luxair's colour scheme. I mentioned earlier that SAA owned 90% of Luxavia, but I'd also heard that it was actually the SAAF (Air Force). Since you study aviation history, maybe you would know where I could look for more information, though I've looked a lot on the net and there is precious little on Luxavia except for a site by an ex-stewardess:
http://www.geocities.com/TheTropics/Cabana/1194/index.htm. I doubt there is much more to find since South Africa at the time was a secretive, paranoid place and there was strict press censorship.
Which brings us to the question of the camera. I cannot verify that but remember reading a small article tucked deep inside a newspaper, probably in early 1981, which said Zambia had discovered the plane was carrying a spy camera (it was the 747-SP). If you know where I could find out more I'd appreciate hearing it. Anyway, something was definitely up: I flew on that plane in December 1980 over Africa, but for the return trip in January or early February 1981 we flew around Africa! That sort of colloborates the story. You ask what there was to spy. Firstly, there was heavy South African (and Cuban) involvement in the war in Angola and, secondly, the then banned African National Congress was based in Zambia.
Patroni From Luxembourg, joined Aug 1999, 1403 posts, RR: 15 Reply 12, posted (9 years 8 months 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 4691 times:
Thanks for posting the link again, I had lost it when migrating to my new PC
When I was in Cape Town in January, I went to some antique book shops, looking for old memorabilia (timetables etc.) from the "Springbok", SAA. In one shop, the lady apologized that she doesn't have anything about SAA, but about an airline which I maybe knew : Trek Airways. Since I am working in Luxembourg, Trek Airways/Luxavia was of course a well known name for me... so we had a nice chat during which it turned out that she was the regional Manager for Luxavia/Trek Airways and Flitestar in the Cape region. Really a small world...The next day I had purchased a couple of old timetables (with 707 and 747SP), some post cards and a big picture showing a 707 over JNB in full Trek Airways colors - in which it never flew due to political reasons.
From what I heard from some colleagues who were already in LX), Luxembourg">LUX during the Luxavia days, this operation was always a bit on the edge because besides the LX-registration, everyone knew who was behind it. This might also explain why it had to fly around the bulge for some time?
If you are interested, I can see to scan some of the stuff which I got from Luxavia. Will take a while though.
CV990 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 13, posted (9 years 8 months 3 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 4664 times:
I used to see quite often SAA in Lisbon during the "apartheid" years. I strongly believe that TAP and SAA fleets during the 60's and early 70's had to do a lot with he fact that both were banned from flying over Africa. TAP opted for the Boeing after SAA started using it and also opted for the 727-100 almost at the same as SAA and the 747 also. In 1961 just before the rebel movements started to fight in the portuguese colonies ( Angola, Mozambique and Guine-Bissau ) TAP used to stop with their Super Constellation flights at Kano. TAP stared to deviate from the SAA filosophy when the coupe d'etat came to Portugal in 1974, then TAP had to review all the african strategy, TAP had 4 747 and didn't need them. I think if the revolution didn't came in 1974 TAP would built a strong 747 fleet and also a 747SP fleet too.
I flew in SAA in 1983, so still in apartheid times, from ATH to LIS in a 747-244B ZS-SAO, the service was excelent but I didn't see any black people in the plane, I think the black community although they could fly in SAA never wanted because of that political situation.
Dc863 From Denmark, joined Jun 1999, 1554 posts, RR: 2 Reply 14, posted (9 years 8 months 3 weeks 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 4599 times:
SAA frequently flew cargo for South Africa's nuclear and other weapons related departments. ZS-SAS which crashed off of Mauritius in 1987 was a Combi which was reportedly flying some secret military cargo from Taipei.
Luisinho From Portugal, joined Nov 2000, 229 posts, RR: 1 Reply 16, posted (9 years 8 months 3 weeks 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 4563 times:
Sad times indeed i hate racist people, but... there's a lot of them around.
Luxavia flew here to Faro (LPFR) some charter flights, i remember to go airport and see the aircrafts there... Boeings 747-SP. But for Faro they operated with Luxavia and SAA.
That's true, the Luxavia was painted with a color scheme near to Luxair just to try to cheat and fly over african continent.
One very interesting comment... i remember that i saw a Timetable from Luxair, and near the center page was an advertisement of Luxavia, announcing flights from Luxembourg Nonstop to Johannesburg. IF THIS IS NOT CHEAT I DONT KNOW WHAT TO CALL IT!!! they were trying to elude people that Luxavia had something with Luxair, and above all, why Luxair allowed advertisements to other airline on their timetables?
See some pictures of the aircrats:
This was the 747SP with colors like Luxair, flying to Faro (LPFR) - 1980
SAA-SAL From Belgium, joined Nov 2000, 356 posts, RR: 3 Reply 18, posted (9 years 8 months 3 weeks 6 days ago) and read 4500 times:
Very interesting stuff.
I flew about six round trips with Luxavia between LUX and JNB between 1988 and 1991 because it was cheaper than SABENA direct to BRU. Everytime I flew this flight we flew over the african continent because the pilots were always telling the passengers to look out and see the sand dunes of the Sahara desert...
Great flights with great memories! The best flights of my life.
DETA737 From Portugal, joined Oct 2000, 596 posts, RR: 0 Reply 19, posted (9 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 4441 times:
TAP was banned from overflying African countries because Portugal refused to grant independence to its African territories (Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe). Portugal was a dictatorship until 1974 that maintained that the overseas territories in Africa and Asia were integral parts of Portugal and therefore self-determination was not open to discussion. Add to this that after Rhodesia's unilateral declaration of independence in 1965 the Portuguese along with South Africa refused to adopt sanctions against the white-minority regime there. Therefore by 1974 Portugal only had diplomatic relations with two black-ruled nations: Swaziland and Malawi (both of which are landlocked and dependent on transport links through Mozambique).
Back to SAA, I also forgot to mention that to stay competitive during this era of having longer flights to Europe they tried to give better service. For instance long after other carriers had introduced 10 abreast seating on their 747s, they kept 9 abreast seating.
CV990 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 20, posted (9 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 4433 times:
LUXAVIA/Luxair also did some flight from LIS, I remember seeing at least one 707 with full Luxair colours in LIS. The 747SP was there from time to time. I still recall seeing SAA flying to LIS with the 707. Last time I saw it was 1979 when ZS-SAD came to LIS.
Tokolosh From Netherlands, joined Sep 2001, 359 posts, RR: 0 Reply 21, posted (9 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 4351 times:
Dc863: Concerning the flight you mention, the plane's name was the "Helderberg" and its crash is steeped in secrecy. The truth has never come out but there are rumours aplenty. I'll sort of summarise the most consistent and frequent ones. The cargo was reportedly a very volatile substance called Red Mercury that must be kept at a constant temperature not varying by more than a couple of degrees either way, otherwise it becomes unstable (and then boom?). This stuff was probably meant for military chemical or nuclear programmes, possibly in cooperation with Israel and Taiwan. The cockpit crew (often ex-airforce) were aware of the cargo and the captain was refusing to take off from Tapei, but he was ordered to do so otherwise he and his colleagues in the cockpit would never fly for SAA again and life would be made impossible for them in South Africa. Sounds like fiction, hey! Anyway, they departed and now they lie deep under the ocean.
Some people, out there somewhere, know the truth. Given that South Africa is making a new start, they should reveal what happened -- they owe it to the victims, the families, and perhaps even themselves.
When I have time I might surf around and see if I can find more information.