On Monday, a SAA airliner carrying Kiwis being repatriated from South Africa landed in Christchurch, the first of the carrier to ever do so.

christchurch airport new zealand
SAA plane at Christchurch Airport. Photo: Twitter.

“Another first for Christchurch Airport! Today we welcome to the South Island our first aircraft from @flysaa. Welcome home to the 300 Kiwi passengers returning from Johannesburg,” Christchurch Airport tweeted.

SAA advertised return flights from New Zealand for R17,500.

Some of the furthest destinations once flown by SAA – now still in business rescue and hoping to make a comeback, albeit in a much smaller version – included Australia, China, Argentina and the United States, but never New Zealand. According to Simple Flying, the flight flew close to Antarctica and took 12.5 hours to reach the city on the South Island.

The plane was meant to return to South Africa today.