The new three-times-weekly service will be South African Airways' first-ever service to China. SAA will operate the flights with Airbus A340-600s.

South African Airways (SAA) is launching three-times-weekly, non-stop service between Johannesburg and China’s capital Beijing on January 31.

The new service will be South African Airways’ first-ever service to China. SAA will operate the flights with Airbus A340-600s.

The flights are now available for sale at, and through SAA’s reservations department and the travel agency community.

“SAA is most pleased to introduce non-stop flights to Beijing, China. This new route is in line with SAA’s strategy to expand its network to Asia, the fastest growing market in the world,” says Siza Mzimela, South Africa Airways’ CEO.

This is an Airbus A340-600 of South African Airways, which has nine of the type in its fleet, as well as five A340-200s (which are to be replaced by five A330-200 twinjets) and eight A340-300Es (these being extended-range versions of the standard A340-300)

China and South Africa established a comprehensive strategic partnership in August last year. The countries then entered into bilateral agreements for cooperation on infrastructure construction, transportation, water resources utilization, housing, health and education. The introduction of non-stop flights between the two destinations promises to facilitate business and leisure travel between the two countries, according to SAA.

“Introducing direct flights between China and South Africa will promote tourism and trade, not only to South Africa, but also to all the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and other African countries,” says Mzimela. “South Africa and neighbouring destinations such as Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe are already popular destinations for Chinese tourists.”

Adds Mzimela: “Similarly, for South Africans and other African countries, the flight will open up China as a new tourist destination and create a bridge between South America and China, connecting three very important BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries and promoting trade amongst these countries.”

Beijing Capital International Airport is the main international airport serving Beijing, China and one of the busiest airports in the world. It is located 32 kilometers (20 miles) northeast of Beijing’s city center and is owned and operated by Beijing Capital International Airport Company Limited, a state-controlled company.

There are three terminals at the airport and SAA will operate in and out of Terminal Three, which is also the designated terminal for Star Alliance partners.

South African Airways (SAA) operates Airbus A340-600s on long-haul flights from South Africa to Europe, the Unites States and Asia

SAA’s operations at Beijing Capital International Airport will be handled by Air China, a Star Alliance partner of SAA. Air China will also be code-sharing on the flight between Johannesburg and Beijing. SAA in turn will code share with Air China to/from Shanghai (PVG), with further destinations in China to follow in the near future.

SAA premium customers will be able to use Air China’s lounges at the airport.

The Business Class cabin in each SAA Airbus A340-600 features lie-flat seats. Each reclines to a complete bed and has various seating-position settings. Each business class seat is equipped with a privacy screen, a personal reading lamp and leg-rest, a footrest, a telephone and an entertainment handset. All seats are also fitted with a personal television.

Economy-class seats on SAA’s long-haul aircraft offer a comfortable pitch of between 33 inches and 34 inches, for increased flying comfort.

Flying time between Johannesburg and Beijing is almost 15 hours.

South African Airways’ schedule on the route will see flight SA288 depart Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport (IATA code JNB) at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays and arrive at Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) at 4:40 a.m. the following day, local time.

In the other direction, flight SA289 is scheduled to leave PEK at 6:40 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays and land at JNB at 3:30 p.m. the same day, local time.

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