An airline coming of age is a rare celebration. It is thus sweet gratification to have travelled the entire journey over the past 21 years and shared the memories with the Airlink family, which has grown significantly over time.
Airlink in its current form, which followed from the defunct Link Airways, whose roots originated in Magnum Airlines and Lowveld Air Services, began on 11 June 1992, continuing the business of 'Link' in a new corporate vehicle styled 'Airlink', later merging with Air Midlands in 1994, acquiring Metavia in 1999 and pioneering the transfrontier public private partnership and together with the Government of Swaziland styled Swaziland Airlink in 1999.
Our highlights include joining forces with South African Airways in April 1997 and together forging a powerful airline network system alliance with the Airlink network of smaller destinations being a component of the greater branded airline network composite led by South African Airways. Today, Airlink's fraternity encompasses over a million enplaned customers per annum, of which more than 400,000 are connecting passengers, over 1,000 staffers, more than 3,000 down-streamers, over 20,000 dependents of breadwinners who rely on Airlink for their income, more than 300,000 families who benefit indirectly from our performance through the shareholding in Airlink of their community development trust, and the communities and micro-economies of over 30 smaller destinations served by Airlink throughout the sub-region.
Airlink's business is driven by the passion and dedication of Airlink's staffers, who share unanimously in and are committed to Airlink’s vision and values, primarily focused on our customers and on service delivery excellence. It is measured carefully, mapped and engineered and painstakingly managed in pursuit of setting new benchmarks in standards. Airlink's punctuality performance is currently consistently and sustainably better than 92%. Airlink is premised on sound governance, entrenched institutional memory with planned succession, a clear vision, and a detailed strategy with defined absolute empirical and measurable objects.
Airlink has built its business on financial frugality and within its means. Airlink has a strong positive growing balance sheet that is becoming increasingly attractive to financiers comforted by our strict fiscal policies and stringent covenants. Airlink's capital requirements are funded privately and internally and always within the constraints presented by our equity. Airlink is founded on integrity, which it has earned and protected.
Airlink is a proudly upstanding South African corporate citizen, with 32.5% of its shareholding held by broad based black South Africans and our commitment to policies of sound corporate Social Responsibility, Enterprise Development, and Skills development that extend far beyond compliance with BBBEE requirements.
Airlink has established strong relations with its supply chain, especially so with our key partners including Nedbank, Shell, Embraer, Rolls Royce, BAE SYSTEMS, Honeywell, Falko ECC, ACSA, ATNS, and KMIA.
Airlink's success is fully attributable to the commitment, dedication and enthusiasm of the Airlink staff, the travel trade, our suppliers, and our customers who have supported Airlink through some tough challenges over the years. Airlink has been truly fortunate in having stakeholders of the highest caliber, from our support staff on the ground to our flight crews in the air, including our shareholders.
On behalf of Airlink, I thank the travel industry, the many millions of our valued customers and my colleagues, many of whom have walked the entire walk together, for their loyalty and support. These three vital "underpins" have ensured Airlink’s continuous growth over the past 21 years and culminated in the solid robust airline Airlink has attained at our coming of age.
As passionate as I was about Airlink in June 1992, I am even more so today.