Rumours have been swirling around the internet about SAA’s fleet renewal programme, but on Sunday the carrier confirmed that it has acquired new Airbus A350-900 aircraft to service its Johannesburg OR Tambo International to New York JFK International route (currently dubbed flights SA203 and SA204, respectively).
The route is currently traversed by the company’s nine Airbus A340-600 aircraft, which were delivered between 2002 and 2005 according to Airfleets.
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The first A350-900 took to the sky in 2013 with its first commercial flight following two years later. As of May 2019, Airbus has delivered more than 250 A350-900s to airlines globally, with another 450 on order.
According to EWN, the carrier will lease the aircraft for “up to three years”. During this period, the planes will offer reduced fuel consumption for the embattled airline and better comfort for passengers. SAA’s acting CEO Zukisa Ramasia believes the planes are key to returning “the airline to financial sustainability in the shortest time possible”.
The identity of the leasor is unknown at present. It’s also not clear when the carrier will take delivery, or how many of these birds SAA will park in its hangars, but it’ll need at least two to adequately perform the now daily flights to and from the US’s most populous city.