South African Airways to expand fleet and relaunch international routes

South African Airways (SAA) has announced plans to lease six new Airbus aircraft, including a wide-body plane, to expand its fleet, relaunch international routes, and increase seat capacity for regional and domestic destinations, offering new business opportunities for UK-based travellers.

South African Airways has been given the green light to expand its fleet with the approval of a plan to lease six new aircraft by the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Public Enterprises.

The expansion is aimed at paving the way for the national carrier to relaunch international routes and increase seat capacity for its regional and domestic destinations.

Interim CEO, Professor John Lamola, expressed his excitement about the development, stating that the aircraft will be delivered before the end of this calendar year and will include a wide-body aircraft as well as five narrow-body aircraft, all of them Airbus equipment.

He said,

We are excited, as SAA, to lay the groundwork for the relaunch of our first international route since coming out of business rescue and since the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. We will announce the new route in the coming few weeks, and we will open commercial marketing and sales for it

The terms and conditions attached to the deals for the new aircraft are along the same competitive, transparent, and cost-effective lines that have characterised the ‘new’ SAA since it emerged from Business Rescue in September 2021, Lamola added.

The four aircraft that we are ordering will all be deployed by September 2023. This is a significant boost for the domestic and regional markets and underscores our commitment to expanding our route network and increasing our frequency in the African market. It will also ensure that the equilibrium between the supply of seats and the flow of traffic will benefit our passengers.

The move is set to benefit UK-based business travellers who will have greater access to African markets, including South Africa.

Commenting on the development, Professor John Lamola said

This expansion represents a significant boost for the African market and underscores our commitment to expanding our route network and increasing our frequency. With this new fleet, we are confident that we will offer our customers a world-class flying experience, with the highest levels of safety and comfort. We are excited to be able to relaunch our first international route since the pandemic, and we look forward to welcoming business travellers from the UK to explore the many business opportunities that Africa has to offer.

The airline is also currently inviting proposals for four A320 narrow-body aircraft, with the other two, an A330 and A320, having already been secured from the lessor community on the same terms as the ones issued in the RFP.