DIJKKIJK
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SAA During Apartheid Rule

Fri Aug 29, 2003 5:34 pm

I'm just curious to know something about South African Airways during apartheid rule.

Were blacks allowed to fly, and if so were they seated in a separate section of the aircraft?

Were there any black Pilots or cabin attendants?
Never argue with idiots. They will bring you down to their level, and beat you with experience.
 
rednose
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Fri Aug 29, 2003 6:22 pm

Yes, they were allowed to fly and no they were not seated separately or treated differently in any way. As to crew, I don't think there were any.
 
lima
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Fri Aug 29, 2003 8:21 pm

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
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Fri Aug 29, 2003 8:53 pm

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.
Young and beautiful and thin and gorgeous AND BANNED ! Cya at airspaceonline.com, losers
 
tokolosh
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Fri Aug 29, 2003 8:54 pm

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.
Did the chicken or the egg get laid first?
 
johnnybgoode
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sat Aug 30, 2003 12:32 am

in those days, when SAA was not allowed to overfly the rest of africa, how did they reach Europe? westbound or east bound, heading first to the arabian peninsula and then on to Europe???

thanks
daniel
If only pure sweetness was offered, why's this bitter taste left in my mouth.
 
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RayChuang
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sat Aug 30, 2003 12:39 am

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.
 
tokolosh
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sat Aug 30, 2003 1:50 am

They also used to stop in Windhoek. If I'm not mistaken they sometimes would make a second stop (not necessary with the SP) in Lisbon.
Did the chicken or the egg get laid first?
 
ZSSNC
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sat Aug 30, 2003 2:15 am

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.

ZSSNC
Airbus A340-600 - the longest temptation in the sky
 
DETA737
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sat Aug 30, 2003 4:34 am

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):

JNB-SID-LHR with
CPT-WDH-FRA-LHR
CPT-LPA-LHR
JNB-LIS-FCO-TLV
JNB-LPA-FRA-BRU
JNB-WDH-MAD-ZRH
JNB-LIS-CDG
JNB-LIS-ATH
JNB-SID-FRA-AMS
JNB-MAD-ZRH-VIE
JNB-LIS-FCO-ATH
JNB-SID-CDG-AMS
JNB-ABJ-LHR
DUR-SID-LHR

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
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sat Aug 30, 2003 11:02 am

@ 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?

Cheers,

Tom
 
tokolosh
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sat Aug 30, 2003 9:20 pm

Hello Tom,

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.

Greetings

A
Did the chicken or the egg get laid first?
 
patroni
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sun Aug 31, 2003 2:19 am

Albert,

Thanks for posting the link again, I had lost it when migrating to my new PC  Smile

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.

Cheers,

Tom
 
CV990
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sun Aug 31, 2003 2:37 am


Hi!

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.
Regards
CV990, the Maserati of the skies!
 
dc863
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sun Aug 31, 2003 4:39 am

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.
 
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Richard28
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sun Aug 31, 2003 4:57 am

Fascinating stuff.

I'm a little confused on why TAP was singled out as a European airline not able to flew over the African continent.

my history is obviously lacking here, but I would have thought that BA would also have been in this position, due to the UK's refusal to impose sanctions on South Africa?

I'd appreciate a quick history lesson!
 
luisinho
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sun Aug 31, 2003 5:06 am

Hiii folks  Big thumbs up

Sad times indeed  Sad 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

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Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Pedro Aragão



This was the 747SP with SAA old colors flying to FARO (LPFR) - 1983

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Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Pedro Aragão



This was the 747SP with SAA new old colors flying to FARO (LPFR) - 1987

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Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Pedro Aragão



[Edited 2003-08-30 22:11:53]
 
ObiThomas
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sun Aug 31, 2003 5:34 am

I believe the reason TAP was singled out was that Portugal was the only country in the 1970s to have an African colony, Mozambique.
 
SAA-SAL
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sun Aug 31, 2003 5:58 am

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.

Cheers SAA-SAL
SAA B747 SP, Luxavia B747 SP
 
DETA737
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sun Aug 31, 2003 7:26 am

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
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sun Aug 31, 2003 7:34 am


Hi!

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.
Regards
CV990, the Maserati of the skies!
 
tokolosh
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sun Aug 31, 2003 7:03 pm

Hi folks  Smile

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.

Greetings
Did the chicken or the egg get laid first?
 
kaitak
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sun Aug 31, 2003 7:20 pm

I have also heard stories about cabin crew who fed information to BOSS (the Bureau of State Security - what a superb acronym) about passengers and what they were talking about.
 
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mats
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sun Aug 31, 2003 10:19 pm

It makes historical sense that members of SAA/SAL cabin crews were connected with the BOSS. Eastern Bloc countries were famous for using airline employees for espionage purposes.

Interesting what you say about service as their competitive edge. Everyone always talked about how wonderful SAA's service was on board.

This is by far the most interesting topic I've come across in a long time. I always wondered about SAA's arrangements during apartheid.
 
clipperno1
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sun Aug 31, 2003 10:46 pm

Were there any other states in the world, especially in europe, which didn't grant SAA overfly or landing rights?

I just searched the web and I couldn't find anything about a later declared cause of the 'Heldenberg' crash, nor that this was a subject of post-arpatheid
'Truth Commission'.

Very good thread.
"I really don't know one plane from the other. To me they are just marginal costs with wings."� Alfred Kahn, 1977
 
Motorhussy
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sun Aug 31, 2003 10:54 pm

The first black South African sportsman to fly Suid Afrikaans Lugdiens was Errol Tobias back in 1981. He was a SpringBok, SAfrican rugby team and a very token gesture to integration. There was a terrible joke here in New Zealand at the time, that he was here because the team needed someone to carry their bags. The South African tour of New Zealand in '81 divided our nation, causing mass riots nearing civil war in some cases. Rugby is almost a religion here!
come visit the south pacific
 
Ljungdahl
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sun Aug 31, 2003 10:57 pm

About the Luxavia South Africa flights, I know there was a period when they had a weekly flight that passed thru Athens (late Saturday eve) just for refueling, it never appeared on any terminal flap-boards or monitors, just arrived and departed in the dark.

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Photo © Johan Ljungdahl


Regards
 
targowski
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SAA Under Aparthied

Sun Aug 31, 2003 10:57 pm

i am curious about their landing rights in north america. when exactly were they banned? i know that they used to fly to houston with SPs with a tech stop in the cape verde islands i believe. was there a point that they flew to NYC or florida before apartheid concluded? also, why were they allowed landing rights at all in europe? arent the dutch (assuming SAA went to AMS since many south africans are dutch descended) pretty socially progressive? or is that only when it doesnt interfere with economic interests?

this is a great thread. i can only imagine the experience of say an african american being treated as an "honorary white" in various places? i wonder what their tourism policy was regarding nonwhites from western countries, surely having too many african americans and so on could not have been good for the social compliance of both races that was needed in order to keep aparthied orderly.

also, if an airport has "international status", then why seperate customs lines for whites at JNB as was previously stated?
 
tokolosh
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sun Aug 31, 2003 11:36 pm

Hi ClipperNo1,

I've looked quickly and there seems to be a lot on the Helderberg (not Heldenberg). First site I came across: http://www.helderberg-accident.com/
Sorry, got to rush,
Albert
Did the chicken or the egg get laid first?
 
clipperno1
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Sun Aug 31, 2003 11:44 pm

Albert,

thanks mate. One false letter is enough to find nothing, eh?! My fault.

Just read through it and it seems like there is still a lot of 'cover up' happening, as the installed commissions have failed to ask some key witnesses. Was SAA's management significantly re-structured after 91 or could it be that there are still some people inside the company and the government who have a descent interest in keeping things down on this one?
"I really don't know one plane from the other. To me they are just marginal costs with wings."� Alfred Kahn, 1977
 
DETA737
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Mon Sep 01, 2003 3:30 am

About their landing rights SAA began service to New York in 1969 via Rio de Janeiro with 707s and in 1976 via Sal with 747SPs. In December of 1982 they began flights to Houston also via Sal but there was a big uproar in the city and the rights were soon revoked soon thereafter. They were banned from flying to the U.S. in 1986 due to the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid act passed by Congress that year (which had actually been vetoed by Reagan originally). Due to the act Pan Am had to cancel its New York-Monrovia-Johannesburg flights. Australia also banned SAA in 1987 and they had to cancel their Johannesburg-Perth-Sydney flights. It was only after sanctions were lifted in 1991 that SAA resumed flying to New York and in 1992 they began flights to Miami.

However, most European carriers continued flying to South Africa during this period and SAA was still allowed to fly to most of Western Europe (they actually serve less cities in Europe today than in 1990). About KLM they were probably driven by profit, even SAS flew to JNB in the 1970s and I believe early 1980s starting with a DC-8 and later a DC-10, which is surprising since the Scandinavian countries were by far apartheid's biggest critics in Western Europe. I think most carriers were just fueled by interest in money since in the 1960s and 1970s SA underwent an economic boom and the Rand was worth more than the dollar. This meant that airlines could generate high revenue from ticket sales in the country. This was quite a contrast to the 1990s when the Rand plumetted leading many longtime JNB carriers such as Alitalia and Sabena to pull out of SA.
 
DoorsToManual
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Mon Sep 01, 2003 3:43 am

Any books on the history of SAA/SAL?

My only claim to relevance here is having used SAA from NBO to JNB, an A320 called 'Blue Crane', back in 1993. The entire crew were white, even at that stage. Same thing when we flew back to NBO on their A300.

Fascinating topic!  Big thumbs up
 
tokolosh
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Mon Sep 01, 2003 4:08 am

Tom,

What a nice story about what happened to you in Cape Town with all that historic stuff -- it is a small world indeed. A picture or so would be nice, if it's not too much trouble.

Amazing amount of information coming in on this stream, quite unique.

Greetings


Did the chicken or the egg get laid first?
 
ctbarnes
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RE: SAA During Apartheid Rule

Mon Sep 01, 2003 4:39 am

Lima and Mats' assertion about SAA flight attendants being part of the BOSS security apparatus is correct. Anthony Sampson's book Empires of the Sky, published in the mid-80's, says SAA FA's were routinely used by BOSS to eavesdrop on passengers:

"'It's quite surprising,' said one ex-employee of the secret service BOSS, 'how loose people's tongues are after they have passed through customs.'" Sampson also mentions how an SAA flight attendant was responsible for executing the plot that trapped Afrikaner rebel Breyten Breytenbach.

Interesting stuff...

Charles, SJ
The customer isn't a moron, she is your wife -David Ogilvy