History of FlySafair
FlySafair’s first Boeing 737-400 passenger aircraft took to the skies for the first time on 16 October 2014 sporting the airlines iconic pink and blue tail. While the airline represented a fresh new face in South African domestic aviation, few people realised that the company behind FlySafair, Safair, has been a major player in aviation for more than 50 years.
Behind FlySafair is a well-established company called Safair Operations which has been operating specialised aviation services since 1965. Over the years the airline has flown a variety of different aircraft types on all kinds of missions in various environments.
The company boasts a long-standing relationship with two aircraft manufacturers in particular: Lockheed and Boeing.
Safair (pronounced: "saf-air") has long been operating a very special aircraft type called the Lockheed Hercules, affectionately referred to as “the Hercs”. These amazing aircraft are powered by four propeller engines and can be used in a number of very interesting ways to execute specialised aviation and airlift services.
Safair Hercules in Antarctica
The wide bodies and rear cargo doors mean that these aircraft are great for transporting large, and often awkward, loads by air. Another major feature of these particular aircraft is their ability to operate off of shorter and irregular runways, meaning that they can be flown into areas that traditional jets would struggle to access.
Safair has been operating and maintaining Boeing aircraft since the early 1980s. Some of the work conducted over the years was on cargo operations, but a large part of the work was only on a lease basis. If you’ve been a semi-regular flier in South Africa over the past 15 years or so, there’s a very high chance that you’ve been aboard an aircraft that was owned and operated by Safair before – it may simply have been sporting a different colour on it’s tail.
Safair's First Boeing Aircraft
Safair has operated flights for a number of very familiar airlines including South African Airways, Air Namibia, Ryanair and 1Time. Safair was also the company that operated the first flights conducted by Kulula.com effectively helping to establish the airline in 2001.
Over the years Safair has had the amazing opportunity to participate in a number of incredible adventures. Our Hercules aircraft in particular are incredibly versatile machines that have allowed us to operate a diverse range of missions in a wide range of climates and conditions.
Feeding the Hungry
For more than 20 years now the bulk of Safair Operations' work has been for Humanitarian Aid relief organisations, like the United Nations, World Food Program and Red Cross. On an almost daily basis we conduct food and supply drops into remote parts of Africa providing essential food and supplies to feed the hungry.
Oil spills have caused devastation to our oceans and one of the key requirements in containing the damage from an oil spill is to spray a chemical compound onto the oil that congeals the spill to limit the damage it can cause to the environment and make it easier to clean. Our aircraft have been called out on short notice to spray the coagulant onto the surface of oil spills and in so doing aided in limiting the damage caused by these events.
Over the years we've had the privilege of flying some incredible passengers, but some of our favourites have been the incredible wildlife relocation missions that we've been involved in. We've aided in relocation projects for the conservation of a number of animals including Rhino, Antelope, Dolphins, Stingrays and Hammerhead Sharks.
A little known fact about Safair is that we were the first in the world to perform a wheel-based landing on ice! To this day we still support researchers who conduct specialised climate related research in Antarctica. These missions usually take place in December when the ice is thick enough to withstand the landing weight of the aircraft. We operate these missions out of New Zealand flying all the way to the bottom of the world.
Safair Boeing 707 over Durban Harbour
FlySafair Takes Off
Safair has been involved in passenger airlines for a long time, but before FlySafair, we'd never flown under our own colours. Operating on a lease basis we've flown for a large number of local and international airlines including SAA, Mango, Kulula, RyanAir and many others.
On the 16th of October 2014 we took to the skies with our own pink and blue tail and the business entered into a whole new era. Our low fares immediately disrupted the market bringing down the average cost of flying by as much as 32% on some of the routes we operate. This in turn opened up the world of air travel to a large number of South Africans who'd never had the chance to fly before.
We can imagine that after landing on ice or dirt runways in the heart of Africa, the smooth runways of South Africa’s major airports are no sweat at all for Safair’s skilled crews.
There’s no Price on Experience
One can imagine that after landing on ice or dirt runways in the heart of Africa, the smooth runways of South Africa’s major airports are no sweat at all for Safair’s skilled crews.
While we are incredibly proud of the skilled people behind the scenes at Safair and FlySafair, it’s not just skill that’s helped us achieve what we have so far, but also experience. It’s the experience behind this airline that has helped us to achieve great things, like establish and maintain the most punctual airline in the country.