Jubilant South African Airways staff sang and danced on Thursday (September 23) as the struggling carrier took to the skies for the first time in just under year.
State-owned SAA halted all operations last September after running out of funds.
Its longstanding financial troubles had been exacerbated by the global health crisis.
The company exited administration in April thanks to a massive government bailout.
On Thursday it restarted domestic flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town to the delight of flight attendant Mapula Rametswi.
"It's the first time for us after so many months we've been waiting for this moment - I am so excited, I'm over the moon. I'm actually emotional the fact that it's happening today. We never thought it would happen."
A slimmed-down international service will be launched next week serving five African capitals.
The government has said it will sell a majority stake in SAA to a local consortium.
The planned sale of the 51% stake is part of efforts to end repeated state bailouts to firms like SAA and power utility Eskom which have placed a massive strain on South Africa's stretched public finances.