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  • Chidozie Uzoezie

South African Airways Operates First Commercial Airbus A350 Flight

Following weeks of crew training, South African Airways, on 24 December 2019, operated its first Airbus A350-900 aircraft for the first time commercially in the domestic market.

The aircraft departed Johannesburg to Cape Town after 10am Wednesday morning, operating as flight SA323, and returned as flight SA336 from Cape Town to Johannesburg, landind at approximately 4pm.

The aircraft is one of four new on-lease Airbus A350-900 jets in South African Airways’ fleet, which is set to improve the airline’s customer offering and commercial prospects.

The introduction of the A350s will contribute to the airline’s operational efficiencies and forms part of fleet renewal to enable the airline to compete and serve its customers better through the introduction of new products.

As additional aircraft are introduced, more routes will be operated by the Airbus A350-900s, such as SAA’s ultra-long haul routes between Johannesburg and New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK). The A350 will replace the Airbus A340-600 currently on the route and will still operate Johannesburg – New York on a nonstop basis.

The Airbus A350-900 is configured with a maximum of 339 seats, of which 30 are Business Class seats and 309 are Economy Class seats, with the first six rows in Economy Class offering extra legroom to provide a more comfortable experience, especially on longer flights.

The Business Class cabin has lie flat beds. Both Business and Economy Class customers will enjoy the quieter cabin, a more relaxing environment during flight.

The aircraft also offers a modern In-flight Entertainment (IFE) system throughout the cabin. South African Airways will operate the aircraft for three years.

Over a 5-year period, South African Airways is expected to achieve about 25% lower operating costs using the A350-900 XWB compared with some of its four-engine Airbus A340s.

Photo credit: Jetphotos

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