In a bid to distance itself from the beleaguered South African Airways, and set itself apart as an independent airline, the privately owned SA Airlink has changed its name to simply Airlink.

Earlier this year Airlink ended its 23-year franchise agreement with SAA, the independent airline said in a statement today. This liberated Airlink and enabled it to forge commercial ties with international airlines that carry passengers and cargo to and from destinations across Southern Africa, and has led to interline agreements with Qatar Airways, Emirates, British Airways, KLM, Air France and United.

Airlink’s announcement is the latest development that is seeing regional airlines reshaping as SAA comes closer to probably being liquidated.

Last year Airlink carried 2 million customers on more than 63,000 flights, on 55 routes to 39 destinations in nine African countries and St Helena Island. Airlink said it would also be announcing new and reinstated flights in the next weeks and months. Airlink flights are now sold on and no longer via SAA’s website. The most visible change will be the introduction of a new corporate livery and branding, which will soon be revealed.

“The subtle, but significant, name change is a key element of our re-positioning, recovery and growth strategy,” said Airlink CEO and MD Rodger Foster.