SA Express Was Banned From Home Airports Over Unpaid Debts


South African carrier SA Express faced a ban over unpaid debts at the close of August. A close partner with South African Airways, the regional carrier helps South African’s network stay connected to smaller, regional destinations in South Africa. Unfortunately, like South African Airways, both entities are facing significant financial difficulties. However, by the afternoon of August 30th, the airline had resumed operations.

SA Express
SA Express temporarily faced a grounding. Photo: Bob Adams f via Wikimedia Commons

The issue of unpaid debt

On August 29th, the airline released a statement indicating the cancellation of their flights due to “operational challenges”. The South African reported that the Airports Company South Africa, or ACSA, suspended SA Express’ ability to perform landings and takeoffs at their airports due to unpaid fees on the part of the carrier.

It is unclear, however, exactly how much the airline owes to the company. Previously, SA Express faced issues with fraud and corruption on the part of former executives.

SA Express
The issue of unpaid debt led to the dispute between the airline and ACSA. Photo: Alan Wilson from Stilton, Peterborough, Cambs, UK via Wikimedia Commons

Both sides took different responses. SA Express said ACSA “reneged” on an agreement while ACSA said SA Express did not meet the conditions of the deal they made. Unfortunately, this impasse led to the ACSA’s revoking of SA Express’ landing and takeoff opportunities.

Who is SA Express?

SA Express
SA Express flies to regional destinations in South Africa. Photo: Bob Adams from George, South Africa via Wikimedia Commons

SA Express is a regional carrier, similar to those in the United States, who connect smaller destinations with larger cities and hubs. Here is a list of their destinations per their website:

  • Bloemfontein
  • Cape Town
  • Durban
  • Gaborone
  • Hoedspruit
  • Johannesburg
  • Kimberley
  • Lubumbashi
  • Mthatha
  • Port Elizabeth
  • Richard’s Bay
  • Walvis Bay

The more “major” destinations in Africa, like Windhoek in Namibia or Maputo in Mozambique, are flown by South African Airways. In addition, other destinations are served by another of South African Airways‘ partners, Airlink.


In terms of its fleet, SA Express exclusively flies regional jets. These include 10 Bombardier CRJ 200s that seat 50 passengers, four Bombardier CRJ 700s that seat 70 passengers, and 10 Bombardier Q400s that seat 74 passengers.

The resumption of flights

SA Express
Now, SA Express is back to flying in South Africa. Photo: Hansueli Krapf via Wikimedia Commons

SA Express confirmed that their flights resumed operations on August 30th, 2019. The first flight after the resumption flew to Lubumbashi and another closely followed to Bloemfontein.

It is not known exactly how many passengers were affected by the suspension of services.


Were you affected by this suspension? What was your experience like? Have you flown with SA Express? Tell us your story in the comments!