South African Airways Receives First Of Four Airbus A350s To Be Delivered By Christmas

South African Airways has taken delivery of its first A350 today. Arriving midafternoon from the paint shop in Singapore, ZS-SDC is the first of four A350s set to arrive with the carrier this year. All four are on lease for three years, and will be operational by mid-December.

SAA A350
SAA has received its first A350-900 today. Photo: SAA

SAA’s first A350 has arrived

After being spotted freshly painted in full South African Airways colors just yesterday, we knew it wouldn’t be long before the airline’s very first A350-900 arrived with the carrier. And indeed we did not have to wait long at all, as it touched down in Johannesburg this afternoon.

ZS-SDC, MSN226, traveled on special flight number HU3040 from Singapore, and under its old Hainan registration of B-304Z. The flight took off just before 11am UTC, and touched down in Jo’berg at 15:41.

The A350 sports a slightly amended livery, featuring larger titles in ‘billboard’ style. You have to admit, it sure does look pretty in South African Airways’ colors.

According to reports on social media, MSN345 is also on lease to SAA from Hainan Airlines. This aircraft, previously registered by Hainan as B-305Z, is already in Singapore and undergoing repainting. Both the Hainan Airlines A350s are just nine months old.

SAA’s A350s are powered by the inimitable Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines, a highly efficient powerhouse especially designed for the A350. Ryan Goodnight, Rolls-Royce, Vice President – Customers, commented in a statement,

“We warmly welcome the arrival of South African Airways’ first Airbus A350, powered by our Trent XWB engines. Rolls-Royce has a long and proud history of working with South African Airways and we deeply value our close relationship. The decision to bring A350s to the South African Airways’ fleet ensures that our partnership will remain strong for many years to come.”

The Rolls Royce Trent XWB
The Rolls Royce Trent XWB. Photo: Rolls Royce

Three and four are also on the way

According to Aeronews, two ex-Air Mauritius A350s will also be joining SAA’s fleet over the coming months. These are MSN 354 and MSN 356, both of which are in Toulouse. Although they were built for Air Mauritius, neither were taken up and as such will arrive at South African completely brand new.

SAA first A350
Three more are due to arrive in the next six weeks. Photo: SAA

MSN 354 will be registered ZS-SDE. It is complete and is currently awaiting paint and delivery from Airbus in Toulouse. MSN 365 will be registered ZS-SDF, and is currently in final assembly.

South African Airways confirmed to Flight Global that all four of the A350s that SAA is leasing will arrive with the carrier before the end of the year. In fact, acting chief executive Zuks Ramasia claims three more will be delivered within the next six weeks. She expects all to be deployed on operations by the middle of December, commenting that,

“It is an important step-change as we continue to make progress to transform our business and return the airline to financial sustainability, in the shortest time possible.”

The first will be deployed on a transatlantic route to JFK, replacing an A340-600. No details have been released on the routes for the other three. All the A350s will be configured with 30 lie flat business class seats and 309 economy, with extra legroom seats in the first six rows. The lease on all four is set to run for three years.

Are you excited to see SAA’s first A350 arrive? Hope to fly on it soon? Let us know in the comments.