November 01, 2019: South African Airways (SAA) took delivery of the first of four new A350-900s, which will improve the airline’s customer offering and commercial prospects. SAA is set to receive four 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.

“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,” said Zuks Ramasia, SAA’s acting CEO.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">We share the highlights of the arrival of our Airbus A350-900 which touched down at O R Tambo International Airport yesterday. Soon she’ll be taking to the skies. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LookUpSAA?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc^tfw">#LookUpSAA</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SAA350?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc^tfw">#SAA350</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SawubonaA350?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc^tfw">#SawubonaA350</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FlySAA?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc^tfw">#FlySAA</a> <a href="https://t.co/pdHYSr2QT7">pic.twitter.com/pdHYSr2QT7</a></p>— SAA - South Africa (@flysaa) <a href="https://twitter.com/flysaa/status/1190336273808056320?ref_src=twsrc^tfw">November 1, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

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 A340-600 on this route and will still be operated on a nonstop basis. As additional aircraft are introduced, more routes will be operated by the A350-900s.

The A350-900 is configured with a maximum of 339 seats. The first two aircraft are nine months old and previously flew commercially with another carrier. 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.

Recently, the commercial partnership between Air Mauritius and SAA for the Mauritius-Johannesburg route has been approved by the South African Competition Commission. The collaboration is expected to increase the number of seats and cargo capacity.

The commonality and common type rating between the A350-900 XWB powered aircraft and the other Airbus aircraft in SAA’s fleet translate directly into cost-saving for training pilots, crew, engineers and technicians as well as for spares inventory.

The A350-900 XWB has excellent range/payload performance on long-haul flights departing from Johannesburg (the hot-and-high consideration). SAA will achieve approximately 25 percent lower operating costs (cash) for operating the A350-900 XWB, over a 5-year period, compared with some of its four-engine aircraft generation that has similar range and payload capabilities.

SAA will achieve approximately 25 percent savings in fuel consumption and emissions. Besides lower operating costs, it will also reduce SAA’s exposure to South Africa’s recently imposed carbon tax because it is more environmentally friendly and help it achieves global emissions offset mechanism targets for international aviation requirements.

SAA will also benefit from the approximately 40 percent 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.

The aircraft will be equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. Since entering service in 2015, the Trent XWB engines have flown more than five million hours and is regarded as the world’s most efficient large aero-engine.

“With this we extend our relationship with Rolls-Royce and the Trent family of engines by adding the Trent XWB to a fleet that already includes the Trent 700, powering the Airbus A330s,” she concluded.