The market confidence in the African Aviation Industry is a sure sign that the marketplace is confident in the recovery, as airlines continue to take steps to position their assets in accordance with their recovery plans. According to AFRAA African airlines have now resumed operations to 99.2% of routes operated before the pandemic.
With the growing confidence, South African Airways (SAA) is increasing its fleet, a show of recovery for the airline after facing serious difficulties that paralyzed virtually all of its activity during the pandemic forcing the South African national carrier to temporarily shut down its business.
The airline currently operates a fleet of 7 Airbus aircraft, consisting of 2x A320s, 3x A319s, 1x A330-300 and 1x A340-300.
The A340 aircraft supports the schedule as an additional aircraft during required fleet maintenance or when capacity demand requires the deployment of a larger aircraft accommodating more passengers.
But as the peak holiday season approaches, SAA is bringing into service an additional three (3) A320 aircraft, bringing the total number of A320s to 5 aircraft to support the high-capacity demand.
The first of these was delivered on September 25, 2022, and the rest will be delivered every month from thence.
Despite the delays with the implementation of the capital restructuring transaction involving a Strategic Equity Partner, the airline is on course to deliver a commercially sustainable and world-class air passenger and cargo services in South Africa, regionally and soon globally. There is a clear demarcation of focus between the SAA Management that is driving a plan for competitive airline operations, and the oversight of matters relating to the SEP which are being managed by the Department of Public Enterprises. SAA management is relentlessly implementing the expansion of the airline to match market dynamics in both the domestic and international scene.
According to SAA Executive Chairman, Professor John Lamola “SAA as the national flag carrier and an entity wholly owned by the people of South Africa has a responsibility to secure the sustainability of the airline industry in South Africa as an enabler of economic development and facilitator of affordable air travel to all users of air transportation in the country. The addition of extra seat capacity in the market enables the achievement of an equilibrium between supply and demand in the market that affects the pricing of air tickets”.
Besides this additional capacity of three A320s, SAA has over the last two weeks increased the aircraft size on two of its busiest routes, Cape Town, and Harare. The Harare – Johannesburg route is now serviced by the larger A330 aircraft on three of its seven-day weekly frequencies.
In addition, according to SAA Chief Commercial Officer, Tebogo Tsimane, “SAA is replacing its A340-300 with a similar capacity aircraft and will exit the A319 fleet in 2023.
Tsimane added, “As we increase fleet size to match the needs of the growing network schedule, we are encouraged that our strategy to cautiously re-enter markets abandoned due to the Covid pandemic has served us very well during the past twelve month, and we will continue to follow that cautious risk-adjusted trajectory.”
SAA’s current business plan is to aggressively ramp up operations and to implement a fleet strategy that will continue to gain momentum of growing its regional-continental services and introduce international-long haul services.