South African Airways (SAA) has joined the A350 family with the delivery of their first one out of four.
With these new planes, the airline is taking a step to modernise its fleet with more fuel-efficient aircraft. The A350s are expected to save SAA 25% in fuel consumption, which will reduce their bill from South Africa's Carbon Tax, as well as reduce maintenance costs by 40% over five years.
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The aircraft will operate on one of SAA’s ultra-long-haul routes between Johannesburg and New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK), replacing the Airbus A340-600 on this route. As additional aircraft are introduced, more routes will be operated by the Airbus A350-900s.
All four planes are expected to be operating commercially by mid-December, but will only be operated by the airline for three years.
These first two are nine months old and have flown with another carrier before. Number two and three will be delivered during the first week of November and the fourth one 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.
“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.
Each plane has 339 seats, 30 of which are Business Class lie-flat beds and 309 are Economy, where the first six rows will offer more legroom.
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*Compiled by Gabi Zietsman
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