Five 747-200Bs were delivered to SAA from October 1971, but it was the 747SP that was ideally suited for SAA's requirements. Its extreme range capabilities were ideal when SAA and South Africa were still pariahs. They took over the Hong Kong service and enabled the start of a Taipei route (lonely South Africa was one of the few states to recognise Taiwan).
Six 747SPs were delivered starting 19 March 1976. To demonstrate the 747SP's performance one was delivered Seattle to Cape Town non-stop. The first 747SP arrived on South African shores on 19 March 1976. Named ‘Hantam’ SPE was the fifth and served with SAA its whole career aside from a couple of short leases – first to Air Mauritius as 3B-NAR in late 1991 and second to Air Namibia as V5-SPE in 1993. Withdrawn in 2003 and scrapped by 2008.
The 1980s became an increasingly hostile environment for SAA thanks to the increasing backlash against Apartheid. Fortunately change was around the corner and the Springbok was able to evolve with the nation and carry on flying the flag.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: