SAA wants to beef up fleet by adding four new planes

South African Airways (SAA) aircraft

South African Airways (SAA) aircraft

Published May 5, 2023


The dance in South African skies continues as SAA has applied to acquire four new aircraft to add to its fleet.

The Consortium owns 51% of the airline, while the government maintains a 49% stake.

SAA issued a request for bids for four Airbus A320-200 passenger planes which can carry 138 passengers, 24 of them in business class.

The airline said it would not be using the government as a gaurantee on the bid.

"SAA will not consider (proposals) for leased aircraft if any security is required over and above security usually requested and provided in respect of aircraft leases," the state-owned company told potential bidders. In particular, SAA will not consider leases where any shareholder support/guarantee is required," the airline said in the document.

“SAA has today, a narrow body fleet consisting of 5 x A320 and 1x A330 aircraft on operating lease agreements. These operating lease agreements are scheduled to expire starting February 2025 and 2026. SAA shall also consider proposals that include the replacement of these aircraft with A320 CEO or NEO aircraft (not older than 2013) as a package deal, in addition to the four aircraft acquisitions above. Aircraft must meet the critical criteria as stipulated above, in order for such to be considered,” the airline further stated.

On Friday, SAA announced in a statement that it has been given the green light for a significant expansion of its fleet to pave the way for the national carrier to relaunch international routes and increase seat capacity for its regional and domestic destinations.

Interim CEO, Professor John Lamola, says the airline’s plan to lease six new aircraft has been approved by the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Public Enterprises. “The aircraft will be delivered before the end of this calendar year, and the planes include a wide-body aircraft as well as five narrow-body aircraft - all of them Airbus equipment,” Lamola said.

“We are excited, as SAA, to lay the groundwork for the relaunch of our first international route since coming out of business rescue and since the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. We will announce the new route in the coming few weeks, and we will open commercial marketing and sales for it.”

Lamola says the terms and conditions attached to the deals for the new aircraft are along the same competitive, transparent, and cost-effective lines that have characterised the ‘new’ SAA since it emerged from Business Rescue in September 2021.

“Currently a Request for Proposals is out for four A320 narrow-body aircraft. The other two - an A330 and A320 have already been secured from the lessor community on the same terms as the ones issued in the RFP.”

“The four aircraft that we are ordering will all be deployed by September 2023. This is a significant boost for the domestic and regional markets and underscores our commitment to expanding our route network and increasing our frequency in the African market. It will also ensure that the equilibrium between the supply of seats and the flow of traffic will benefit our passengers,” Lamola added.

On Thursday, the Cape Times reported that Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan used confidentiality and non-disclosure clauses as his latest explanation for not providing some information on SAA aircraft.

This came into play when DA MP Alf Lees sent two sets of parliamentary questions to Gordhan.

Lees wanted to know whether SAA had leased, purchased and/or acquired any aircraft since September 2021.

He also enquired about the details of each aircraft, the date each was received by SAA, the lessor and/or seller of each aircraft, costs of each lease, and the full terms of each lease.

In his written response, Gordhan confirmed that SAA has leased six aircraft since September, 2021.