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On Thursday South African private-sector airline Airlink unveiled its new livery, and in particular, its new tail insignia, intended to clearly proclaim its status as an independent carrier. For over 20 years Airlink had a franchise agreement with State-owned national flag carrier South African Airways (SAA); Airlink, however, terminated this agreement at the start of this year after SAA went into business rescue. Because of the franchise agreement, Airlink’s aircraft were painted in a livery similar to that of SAA, but with the addition of Airlink’s sunbird-and-sun logo. 

“We have flown that particular nest and we are inviting our loyal and new customers to fly with us as Airlink expands its network, connecting and re-connecting people, communities, businesses, goods and services with markets throughout Southern Africa and beyond,” stated Airlink CEO and MD Rodger Foster. The new tail insignia retains the sunbird-and-sun logo but against a totally new background, intended to represent the sky at dawn.

The new livery is intended to symbolize the company’s new strategy, which is to be an agile, independent, financially robust, and responsive business, with no brand association whatsoever with SAA. The unveiling of the new livery followed not long after the official renaming of the airline from the previous SA Airlink to just Airlink.

“Independence and freedom are Airlink’s core propositions,” he said. “We offer the freedom of the broadest route network and most comprehensive flight schedule in the South African domestic and the Southern Africa regional markets, along with convenient connections with our global partners’ services, which gives our customers the choice of flights and seamless connections, whether traveling for business, personal or pleasure.”

The first aircraft painted in the new livery is an Embraer E190, the airline’s flagship type. It will return to flight operations early next month, in time for the December summer holiday traffic. The remaining aircraft in the Airlink fleet will be repainted when they undergo their scheduled deep maintenance periods. This will mean that some months will pass before all the airline’s aircraft carry the new livery. On the other hand, Airlink’s operations will not be disrupted by the repainting process.

“In celebrating our independence, we are giving our customers added free benefits, such as free check-in allowance for baggage and sporting equipment, a business class service on select E-jet flights as well as complimentary onboard catering,” he reported. With the easing of South Africa’s air travel restrictions (aimed at countering the Covid-19 pandemic) Airlink has resumed its services to all 15 of the country’s main tourist and economic centers. It has also resumed regional flights to destinations in Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Next week it will restart operations to Botswana, and next month to Madagascar. Other routes will be re-established, and new ones announced, in the coming weeks and months.

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