South African Airways has sent two of its Airbus A350s to a Spanish aircraft graveyard. The two A350s were leased from Avolon, joining the fleet last November, having previously flown for Hainan Airlines. According to data from Planespotters.net, both aircraft are no longer part of the SAA fleet.
It has been an interesting year for South African Airways. The airline was already struggling before the current pandemic. In January, the airline canceled many services to conserve cash. The airline was placed into business rescue proceedings in early December, and just yesterday, Simple Flying reported that the airline’s rescue plan has now been approved.
A350s to Teruel
South African Airways has four Airbus A350s. Two were leased from Avolon, with the other two being hired from Air Mauritius. Air Mauritius is currently in voluntary administration. The two from Avolon have now been ferried to Teruel, a Spanish aircraft graveyard towards the north-east of the country.
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ZS-SDD was the first A350 to make the voyage north to Spain. The aircraft departed Johannesburg at 23:30 on July 10th. It flew for 9 hours and 39 minutes, cruising at a height of 43,000 feet, before touching down in Teruel at 09:47 the next morning.
Llegada del segundo A350-941 en el aeropuerto de Teruel en vuelo directo desde aeropuerto #Johannesburgo – Oliver Reginald Tambo, la ciudad más grande y poblada de Sudáfrica.@aeropuerteruel @GobAragon pic.twitter.com/FO8hH6NZ2Q
— Aeropuerto de Teruel, vuela la innovación (@aeropuerteruel) July 15, 2020
ZS-SDC followed its sister up to Teruel last night. The aircraft departed Johannesburg slightly later at 00:38 this morning. It touched down in Teruel at 10:13 after an ever so slightly shorter 9-hour and 35-minute flight. The plane flew between 40,000 and 41,000 feet for the duration of the cruise.
Returned to the lessor
These two aircraft have now been returned to the lessor and transferred to long term storage in Spain. It is unclear exactly how long these aircraft will remain there at the present point in time. Given the current situation, demand may not exist for them right away, but it will surely return as more flights return to the skies.
For the time being, only one other South African Airways aircraft has been flown to Teruel, an A330 registered as ZS-SXU. However, while they may be the only A350s at the facility, they are far from the only aircraft.
Since the start of the pandemic, many different aircraft have been sent to the facility. This includes five British Airways Boeing 747s, Seven Lufthansa A380s, Lufthansa’s entire A340-600 fleet, and several Air France A380s.
As part of the business rescue for South African Airways, its fleet size is being cut fairly drastically, with many aircraft being sent all across the world. It is entirely possible that further SAA aircraft could end up at Teruel, but only time will tell. Just today at least four Airbus A320s from the airline were being ferried north towards Europe, with one landing at Frankfurt after a stop in Accra.
Did you get to fly on a South African Airways A350 during their short time flying for the airline? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!