What Happened To South African Airways’ Former Airbus A300 Aircraft?

South African Airways took delivery of its first Airbus A300 aircraft in 1976. The national carrier would go on to operate a total of nine A300s until the last departure in 2001. Simple Flying takes a look at what happened to these aircraft, and where they may currently be found.

South African Airways operated Airbus A300 aircraft between 1976 and 2001. Photo: Bob Adams via Flickr

Airbus A300

The Airbus A300 jetliner made its first flight in 1972. The widebody medium-range aircraft typically accommodated up to 266 passengers and had a range of just over 7500km. It was the first aircraft produced by Airbus Industrie. Interestingly, the model was also the first twin-engined widebody airliner.

The A300 comes in six variants, namely the A300B1, A300B2, A300B4, A300-600, A300B10, and the A300-600ST. Airbus delivered its last A300 in 2007 to the US freight carrier FedEx.

SAA and the A300

South African Airways took delivery of its first Airbus A300 in November of 1976. The aircraft was registered as ZS-SDA and named Blesbok after the African antelope. The purchase of the A300 was part of SAA’s domestic and regional route expansions. During the 70s, the carrier acquired 12 Boeing 737s, three Boeing 747SPs and four Airbus A300s.

Through the years, the national carrier took delivery of a further five A300s. For SAA, the A300 saw its last service in 2001. This did not, however, signal the end of service for the aircraft, as they were stored, scrapped, or sent off to new homes. The A300s were replaced by the newer A340 aircraft, with SAA currently operating 16 aircraft.

Where did the A300s go?

During its service years with SAA, its Airbus A300 aircraft were phased out and moved on to other airlines, or else scrapped.

Scrapped aircraft

Three of SAA’s A300 aircraft have been scrapped, including Blesbok. The scrapped aircraft are:

  • ZS-SDA (Blesbok) – Delivered in 1976 and scrapped in 2002.
  • ZS-SDC (Waterbok) – Delivered in 1977, moved on the ASI in 2000 and eventually scrapped.
  • ZS-SDD – Delivered in 1977, stored, and eventually scrapped.
ZS-SDA, dubbed Blesbok, was SAA’s first A300 aircraft in operation. Photo: Bob Adams via Flickr

These aircraft were part of the initial expansion orders as described above and were phased out in preparation for the A340s arrival.

Moved to different airlines

The rest of the fleet, six in total, have found new homes with other carriers:

  • ZS-SDG – This aircraft was delivered in 1987, seeing service until 2000. It was acquired by MNG Airlines under the registration of TC-MND.
  • ZS-SDI – SAA took delivery of the aircraft in 1987, and it was moved on to Guinness-Peat Aviation in 1991 as EI-CBW.
  • ZS-SDE – The plane was delivered to SAA in 1989, leaving the carrier in 2000 for Onur Air as TC-ONT.
  • ZS-SDF – Delivery of the aircraft took place in 1990 and changed its registration to TC-ONU in 2001 when it was acquired by Onur Air.
  • ZS-SDH – Delivered in 1995, the aircraft was the second A300 acquired from SAA by MNG Airlines. Its registration was changed to TC-MNE.
  • ZS-SDB – One of the first A300s delivered to SAA in 1976, Gemsbok became the third aircraft moved to Onur Air under registration TC-ONY.

Who still flies the A300?

Nearly all of the remaining A300 aircraft are being operated in the Middle East. Mahan Air, Iran Air, and Qeshm Air operate a total of 21 aircraft between them.

Iran Air is one of a handful of airlines that still operate the A300. Photo: Bill Wilt via Flickr

The Iraqi government also operates a single A300.

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