South African Airways’ Airbus A350 To Debut In Europe

South African Airways is set to bring its shiny new Airbus A350 to Europe. Schedules show that SAA’s A350 will begin operating the daily service between Johannesburg and Frankfurt from the 2nd February 2020, replacing its A340 on the route.

SAA A350
South African Airways will bring its A350 to Europe next week. Photo: South African Airways

The A350 will appear in Frankfurt

Following the announcement that SAA will begin flying its A350 to New York next month, the carrier has now revealed its debut of the type in Europe. According to Business Traveler, the first A350 flights to Europe will be arriving in Frankfurt from Johannesburg on February 2nd, 2020.

The flights will be operated under flight numbers SA260 and SA261. SA260 will depart Johannesburg (JNB) at 20:25, arriving in Frankfurt (FRA) at 06:15 the next day. The returning flight, SA261, will depart Frankfurt at 20:45, arriving in Johannesburg at 08:25 the following day.

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Although SAA’s website suggests the A350 will be used from the 2nd of February, Flight Radar’s information doesn’t show it booked on until the 7th. At the current time, SA260 and 261 are being operated by the carrier’s A340 aircraft, some of which are up for sale.

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The flight is scheduled to take around 10 hours and 40 minutes outbound and around 10 hours and 20 minutes on the return. It covers a great circle distance of 8,659km (5380 miles).

SAA A350 europe
The trip will take over 10 hours. Photo: FlightRadar24

Both services are daily, so SAA will either be placing two A350s on this route or will be alternating the service between the A350 and the A340 to continue a daily rotation.

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There is much speculation that the A350 could appear on the London Heathrow route from Johannesburg. However, no information has been received on any changes to this route yet.

What can we expect from SAA’s European A350 service?

Two of the A350s arriving with SAA were previously destined for Hainan Airlines, and as such have retained the layout as specified by this carrier. The other two are being sub-leased from Air Mauritius.

SAA says its A350 is fitted out with a total of 339 seats. This is shared between 309 in economy and 30 in business, complete with lie flat beds. Economy has six rows of extra legroom seats.

The airline received its first A350 in October last year, and by Christmas, it had its full complement of four aircraft.

SAA A350-900
SAA received its first A350 in October 2019. Photo: South African Airways

SAA has been struggling with its cash flow for a number of years now. Having received bailout after bailout, it is currently undergoing a period of restructuring, which has included the introduction of the A350 in a bid to improve its long haul efficiency.

Despite this, the carrier was forced to cancel some flights last week due to a cash crunch. However, just yesterday it recurved a $240m rescue package which should see it flying for the foreseeable future.

Are you excited to see SAA’s A350 in Europe? Will you try to catch a flight in Frankfurt? Let us know in the comments.

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Gerry S

Just a thought after a long conversation with my crew on a long haul: If SAA presently owns the A340 a/c in its fleet, meaning that they are all paid for, then shouldn't it be less costly to utilize them as is, instead of purchasing new expensive aircraft? When does the fuel savings of A350, trump the related cost of flying A340s already bought and paid for?