SAA orders five more Airbus A320


South African Airways (SAA) has ordered five additional Airbus A320 aircraft, increasing an earlier commitment for the type from 15 to 20. The aircraft will be delivered from 2013. Airbus, who made the announcement, did not disclose a value for the transaction.

The French news agency, Agence France Presse, reports however, that at “catalogue prices”, the five airliners would cost US$407 million dollars or 332 million euros.

SAA CE Siza Mzimela says the state-owned airline is “delighted that this transaction has the approval of our key stakeholders, the SAA Shareholder [government] and Board. Because they offers a seamless fit with the other Airbus aircraft types which we operate, the A320s will assist in our efficiency drive and reduce maintenance costs.”

The deal is in addition to a lease signed with Aircastle in March to lease six new A330-200 aircraft from February next year. These will replace SAA’s six A340-200s on a one-to-one basis.

The five additional A320 will augment the 15 SAA negotiated to acquire last year in settlement of a dispute with the French-based planemaker after a bungled attempt to cancel the purchase. The airliners had been part of a complex US3.5 bilion deal for 41 Airbus aircraft inked in March 2002 that included industrial offsets. International aviation publication Flightglobal reports SAA has received nine A340-600s, 11 A319s and six A340-300Es covered by the order, “but mistakenly believed it had cancelled the A320 portion.”

In 2008 SAA had to make a R727 million provision in its financial statements after Airbus demanded that it make pre-delivery payments on the aircraft and the airline found it was contractually bound to do so.

SAA stated in its annual report last year that it had increased the A320 order to 20 aircraft “at a total price that does not exceed the indicative value of the original order for 15 placed in 2002”, Flightglobal adds.