On 31st October South African Airways (SAA) received the first of four new Airbus A350-900s.
The first aircraft is part of an initiative to boost SAA’s fleet with modern, fuel-efficient aircraft,and will operate non-stop on one of SAA’s ultra-long haul routes between Johannesburg and New York, replacing the Airbus A340-600. As additional aircraft are introduced, SAA say more routes will be operated by the Airbus A350-900s.
“We welcome the first A350 home on South African soil. The introduction of the A350s offers a new beginning for the airline and will contribute to the airline’s operational efficiencies, and get SAA back on track. It is an important step-change as we continue to make progress to transform our business and return the airline to financial sustainability in the shortest time possible,” says Zuks Ramasia, SAA’s Acting CEO.
In its announcement the airline said it is set to receive four Airbus A350-900s over a period of six weeks, and all four are expected to operate commercially by mid-December following regulatory approvals and training. SAA will operate the aircraft for three years.
The first two aircraft are nine months old and previously flew commercially with another carrier. Aircraft number two and three are scheduled for arrival during the first week of November and the fourth aircraft will arrive in early December.
The last two aircraft are brand new and will be delivered to SAA directly from the Airbus factory in Toulouse, France. These two aircraft are sub-leased from Air Mauritius and will also fly with SAA for three years.
SAA expect to achieve approximately 25% savings in fuel consumption and emissions. Besides lower operating costs, the A350-900 will also reduce SAA’s exposure to South Africa’s recently imposed Carbon Tax. Lower maintenance costs are also expected, in the region of 40%.
SAA will also benefit from the approximately 40% lower cost for maintaining the A350-900 XWB’s airframe over a 5-year period, that is, the aircraft excluding the engines, compared with some of its four-engine aircraft generation it will replace on the Johannesburg-New York-Johannesburg and other routes.