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For more than 50 years Safair has been at the forefront of delivering specialised aviation services across the world.


Our success and that of our customers has been built upon our dedication to excellence in everything we do. From wet and dry leasing to special airlift operations, this culture of excellence enables us to bring world class solutions swiftly and efficiently to every challenge.


Safair is also the parent company to South Africa's true low cost passenger airline: FlySafair.

A Brief History of Safair Operations

Safair Operations as we know it today was established in 1965. At the time is was known as Tropair (Pty) Ltd and was a general aviation charter company. In 1970 the company name changed to Safair Freighters (Pty) Ltd when the company was purchased by Safmarine and the new entity began operations on 18 March 1970.

Lockheed Hercules Operations

In April of 1970, Safair applied to lease thirteen plots at the then Jan Smuts International Airport which were put out to tender by the Department of Transport. Simultaneously the company placed an order with the Lockheed factory in the USA for seventeen L-382 aircraft. These aircraft were to establish the backbone of a fleet that continues to provide specialist airlift services more than 50 years later.

Boeing Aircraft

Safair’s history with operating Boeing Aircraft spans back to 1985. At that time the board approved the acquisition of two, leased, Boeing 707-300 aircraft. These aircraft were employed in various charter operations carrying both people and cargo across Africa and the world.


When the business demanded further fleet expansion in 1994, the business looked to the Boeing 727-200 to fill their needs. Two of these aircraft were purchased that year and immediately deployed into operations for local domestic carriers including Phoenix Airway, Inter Air and Sun Air. In 1996 Safair acquired an additional five Boeing 727-200 aircraft to cope with demand. These aircraft were immediately deployed into operations for Comair and Sun Air.


By the end of 1996 Safair was the largest owner and operator of 727-200 aircraft with a total of 16 such aircraft in the fleet.

New Ventures

When FlySafair launched in 2014 the South African public identified a new start-up airline. Few people realized that this new low cost carrier actually had its’ genesis in an incredibly well established aviation operation that had not only been operating domestic passenger flights for years, but which had been fundamentally instrumental in the establishment of some of the country’s most popular airlines.

Over it’s history Safair has operated various other types of aircraft such as B727 and MD80's for airlines such as Brittish AIrways Comair / Kulula, Air Namibia, 1Time Airlines, Inter Air, South African Airways, South African Express, Mango Airlines, Air Zimbabwe, Korongo AIrlines to name but a few. 

Adventures in Aviation

Safair’s specialist operations have led to a remarkable history of operations. The Lockheed Hercules fleet has proven to be an incredibly versatile one and that aircraft’s ability to land on short runways in a variety of conditions has led to a number of remarkable adventures.


Over the years Safair has conducted numerous operations in the Humanitarian Aid and Relief Industry operating food drops, evacuations and a great number of search and rescue operations.


The airline has also been very instrumental in dealing with Oil Spill Responses where oil spills at sea need to be treated with a special chemical compound that congeals the oil to minimize the environmental impact of a spill.


Animal Conservation has also given rise to a great number of operations and Safair has transported a great deal of wildlife for these purposes including: Antelope, Hammerhead Sharks, Manta Rays, Dolphins, Flamingos and Black Rhino.


Safair was also the first commercial airline to achieve a wheeled landing with a Lockheed Hercules on ice in the heart of the Antarctica Continent in 1993. The company continues to operate contracts to this incredible part of the world.

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