South African Airways (SAA) will be leasing two Airbus A350-900 airliners for up to three years, with the aircraft flying between Johannesburg and New York JFK.
SAA made the announcement on 30 June, saying it would take delivery of the aircraft in the second half of 2019. The aircraft will be operational in SAA’s branding as soon as SAA has met the regulatory authority requirements, it added.
“The introduction of these state-of-the-art aircraft to our fleet 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,” said acting SAA CEO, Zukisa Ramasia.
“These aircraft present an immediate opportunity to offer an improved product between Johannesburg and New York which will be accompanied by unmatched and consistent customer experience for both Business and Economy Class customers.”
The A350 will replace the A340-600 on the New York JFK route. SAA said the new A350s are modern and fuel efficient, which will make them more economical to operate. “These aircraft present an opportunity for SAA to reduce fuel burn by approximately 20% compared to the aircraft currently operating on that route. This will translate into significant cost savings that will contribute towards improved operating costs and financial performance. In addition, the significance of this development is that it will add to a positive environmental impact, as SAA will also reduce its carbon emissions,” the airline said.
The A350 configuration has 246 Economy Class seats whilst the Business Class cabin has lie flat beds.
“We are proud to offer our customers the latest generation aircraft with a modern product, including a quieter cabin, a more relaxing environment during flight, and the latest in-flight entertainment,” concluded Ramasia.