The last of South African Airways’ A350 has left Johannesburg. Following the departure of two A350s in July, today the final two have made the three and a half hour journey across the ocean to the island of Mauritius. They are being returned to Air Mauritius, but it is not known what will happen to them next.
The end of the A350 for SAA
South African Airways’ flirtation with the A350 was rather short-lived. It was hoped that the arrival of these high capacity, efficient jets would allow it to streamline operations and shed inefficient aircraft like its A340s. While they filled that role for a short while, SAA’s financial situation coupled with the COVID grounding meant their place in the fleet was no longer required.
The first two A350s, ZS-SDD and ZS-SDC flew to Teruel on July the 10th and 14th respectively. Although these were originally destined for Hainan Airlines, they arrived with South African Airways in November last year.
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These two will likely remain in storage at Teruel until the lessor can find another airline to take them on.
Now, the remaining two A350s have left South Africa, headed back to the airline that owns them. Both were leased from struggling Air Mauritius, which entered administration itself in April this year.
Today, ZS-SDE and ZS-SDF made their way from Johannesburg to Port Louis. SDE departed first, leaving South Africa at around 12:14. 45 minutes later, SDF also departed. They travelled in convoy, touching down in Port Louis around three and a half hours later. It was the first time both aircraft had flown, apart from a few maintenance flights, since the end of March.
Both aircraft have already been given back their old registrations – 3B-NBR and 3B-NBS. It appears that both aircraft will, for the time being, rejoin the Air Mauritius fleet. Whether they will fly any revenue flights remains to be seen.
Air Mauritius continues to fly
While South African Airways remains grounded, Air Mauritius continues to fly. The airline resumed commercial flights between Port Louis and Rodrigues on July 1st and announce this week that it would be ramping up these flights to three per day from September 1st.
Although the airline entered voluntary administration in April, it has not stopped operating. There was some discussion about liquidation of the airline back in June, but as of today, nothing has been decided for sure.
What we do know is that Air Mauritius is looking to sell those aircraft which it owns outright. These include two A340-300s, one A330-200 and two A319-100s. At this stage, it is unknown whether the A350s will also be put up for sale, or if Air Mauritius will attempt to get some use out of them.
At the present time, international flights have been suspended from Mauritius until at least the start of October. As part of its restructuring, Air Mauritius is reviewing its entire network. At least in the short term, these shiny new A350s will be unlikely to see any passenger service and will be simply resting in the sun at Port Louis.