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South African Airways has taken delivery of the first of four A350-900 aircraft. With these new planes, the airline is taking a step to modernise its fleet with more fuel-efficient aircraft. The A350s are expected to save SAA 25% in fuel consumption, which will reduce their bill from South Africa's Carbon Tax, as well as reduce maintenance costs by 40% over five 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.

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 Airbus 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 Airbus A350-900s. The first two A350s to arrive are not brand new – SAA confirmed that they previously flew “with another carrier”, and are nine months old.

South African Airways (SAA) is South Africa's national flag carrier airline. Rated by performance, flight routes covered and revenues, South African Airways is Africa's largest and best airline. Founded in 1934 after Union Airlines was acquired by the South African government, the airline is one of the oldest carriers in the country.

South African Airways is a member of the Star Alliance, the biggest airline alliance in the world. It is also the only South African Airline that's earned the prestigious Skytrax 4-star airline ranking. It's also earned the Skytrax best African Airline award for numerous years. South African Airways' headquarters are in Airways Park in Kempton Park, Gauteng. From this international hub, it flies to 38 domestic, regional and international locations.

31 October 2019