Two of South African Airways Airbus A320 have already landed in Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport ahead of the much anticipated return to the skies for the South African National carrier.
The aircraft having been stored in Abu Dhabi storage facilities followed a well rehearsed routine and “ rigorous technical checks ” and arrived in Johannesburg at around 7pm, Thursday evening, first time to be seen in months since leaving for storage.
SAA has been flying through turbulence over the past years with the rescue practitioners forced to Return 17 aircraft to lessors, as the lessors chose to terminate the leases. The aircraft returned included four A319s, three A340-300s, three A340-600s, five A330-200s and two B737s.
The A320s, which were among the planes SAA sent back to lessors, were placed in storage and given six-year maintenance checks in Abu Dhabi during the airline’s time in business rescue.
The airline has since been left with three A319s, eight A320s, one A330-200, three A330-300s and four A350-900s.
Where are SAA’s A350s now?
The arrival of the A350-900 towards the end of 2019 was a significant boost to the SAAs fleet as it was a modern and a fuel-efficient aircraft viewed as a potential replacement of the Airbus A340-300s and A340-600s which are not very fuel efficient on the long-haul services.
In July last year, the airline also sent its Airbus A330-200 and A350-900 to Teruel Airport in Spain for long term storage.
Teruel Airport is located in Spain outside the town of Teruel and hosts aircraft from all over the world that have been withdrawn from service either temporarily or permanently and caters to their maintenance needs. It is however not an aircraft junkyard, though!
Teruel also houses new serviceable aircraft and some aging airliners that may also be scrapped after being stripped off their valuable parts and spares.
SAA is planning to develop a fully fledged regional hub with the long term goal of serving the entire region.
Due diligence process with SAA’s strategic equity partner – the Takatso consortium – is already gaining momentum and plans are well advanced for cargo and charter flights.
By Victor Shalton Odhiambo
Photo: Courtesy – planespotters.net