SAA Airbus A350 Goes International With Flight To New York

South African Airways (SAA) operated the first international flight for its new Airbus A350-900. The aircraft left Johannesburg for New York on 20th January 2020.

SAA A350
With its improved fuel-efficiency, SAA points out that the A350-900 can fly further than any other plane in commercial service. Photo: South African Airways

Ready for long haul routes

SAA had been getting used to its new arrival on domestic operations. The plane had mostly been operated on flights between two of South Africa’s capitals of Cape Town and Johannesburg.

The jet was expected to make its international debut on this route in the next few weeks. However, it left from O.R Tambo International Airport for John F. Kennedy International Airport earlier this week.

In a press release, SAA acting CEO Zuks Ramasia shared how the introduction of the A350-900 on the New York route will allow its customers to travel in comfort.

“This inaugural flight was the first that we plan to introduce on our international routes in the near future,” Ramasia said, as per the release.

“We are excited that our passengers will enjoy the A350s superior features such as a quieter cabin and relaxing in-flight experience including the all-new In-flight Entertainment (IFE), extra-legroom seats in Economy Class and lie-flat beds in Business Class.”

SAA A350-900
This A350 is one of four new Airbus A350-900s that joined the airline at the end of last year. Photo: South African Airways

Strong backing

To mark the healthy relationship between the two companies, Ryan Goodnight, Vice President Customers, Rolls-Royce gifted a genuine part of the first Trent XWB to fly. It made its first flight on 18th February 2012 onboard a modified Airbus A380 test aircraft.

All of these A350-900s are equipped with Trent XWBs, which the airline highlights as the world’s most efficient large airplane engines. SAA hopes that these will help the aircraft contribute to the company’s goal of increasing operational efficiency while reducing costs.

The introduction of the A350 is part of the state-owned flag carrier of South Africa flight renewal program. Nine wide-body planes are being sold to make way for these new models. Altogether, five A340-300s and four A340-600s are up for sale. Furthermore, 15 spare engines and four auxiliary power units are leaving the airline.

SAA claims that the new planes will save on fuel consumption by 25%. Additionally, the firm states that the units will lower maintenance costs by 40% over a five-year period.

SAA gift
Ryan Goodnight (right), Vice President Customers, Rolls-Royce gifting the Trent XWB part to SAA acting CEO Zuks Ramasia (left). Photo: South Africa Airways

Regular appearances

World Airlines News reports that the A350-900 planes will serve SAA’s services between Johannesburg and New York six times a week until March 31st, 2020. However, a daily operation will resume on April 1st, 2020.

With South Africa being even more of a hotspot for both tourists and businesses, SAA is putting its new aircraft in place just in time for the new decade ahead.

Simple Flying reached out to South African Airways for further comment on the service but did not hear back before publication. We will update the article with any further announcements.

Are you looking to try out the new service? Let us know what you think in the comment section.

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