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South African Airways Expands Fleet, Adds New African Destination

South African Airways (SAA) is making headlines with developments that signal a resurgence in its operations and expansion plans.

A South African Airways A340 lifts off. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | James Dinsdale)

In line with their vision to enhance their operational capacity and routes, South African Airways (SAA) has welcomed an additional Airbus A330-300 to its fleet, the airline reports. The aircraft, registered as ZS-SXI, comes as part of SAA’s strategy to reconnect with passengers and rebuild its network.

The current fleet of South African Airways stands at a total of six active aircraft, which comprises five Airbus A320s and one A340-300. Additionally, the airline is leasing a Boeing 737-800. Two of their jets are presently undergoing maintenance, an A320 and an A330-300.

Plans are already in motion for the new Airbus A330-300, with scheduled flights set to commence. Starting from October 31, the airline intends to operate flights from Cape Town to São Paulo, and from November 6, flights will connect Johannesburg to this vital route. Both routes will be serviced by the Airbus A330-300, configured to accommodate up to 249 passengers across two classes: 46 seats in business class and 203 in economy class.

Domestic Boost: Sun Express Leases Two Boeing 737s

SAA is not just looking to expand its international footprint; it’s also committed to meeting the domestic travel demands of its passengers. The South African national airline has entered into a temporary leasing agreement with Turkish-German holiday airline Sun Express that involves two Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which SAA intends to deploy on domestic routes during the high-demand southern summer season.

The first Sun Express aircraft will be in operation from October 20 to March 31 with the second joining the fleet from November 16 to March 31. These Boeing 737s will connect major South African cities, including Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban, offering travelers greater flexibility and convenience. Notably, this arrangement coincides with Sun Express’ reduced jet requirements in the northern winter.

Abidjan Joins the Network

SAA’s commitment to growth extends to the African continent, with the airline announcing the launch of a new route to Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire. This marks SAA’s 12th destination in Africa.

The Abidjan route, which will be operated via Accra, Ghana, will utilize the Airbus A330-300 aircraft. Bookings are already open for this route, with the inaugural flight set to take off on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023. This route will enhance connectivity between South Africa and West Africa, providing passengers with a convenient and efficient travel option.

The flight schedule will see SAA flying to Félix Houphouët Boigny International Airport in Abidjan three times a week, departing Johannesburg on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. with an arrival time in Abidjan at 5:00 p.m., including a brief 55-minute stopover in Accra.

What sets this route apart is SAA’s commitment to reducing travel time for passengers. Compared to other airlines serving this route, SAA aims to cut the flight duration to just 6 hours, thanks to its strategic stopover in Accra.

Moreover, this route introduces an airfreight connection between Accra, Abidjan, and Johannesburg, promoting trade links among these major cities and strengthening SAA’s global network.

Interim CEO, Professor John Lamola, reiterated that the decision to add Abidjan to SAA’s route schedule was the result of careful analysis, emphasizing the airline’s commitment to sustainability since its restart.

Victor Shalton


  • Victor Shalton

    Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Victor’s love for aviation goes way back to when he was 11-years-old. Living close to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, he developed a love for planes and he even recalls aspiring to be a future airline executive for Kenya Airways. He also has a passion in the arts and loves writing and had his own aviation blog prior to joining AirlineGeeks. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration at DeKUT and aspiring to make a career in a more aviation-related course.

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