SAA upgrading, not expanding fleet

2010-08-17 20:18

Cape Town - Plans for the national carrier SAA to take delivery of 20 new Airbus A320 aircraft over the next few years was an exercise in replacement rather than fleet expansion, the airline said on Tuesday.

Briefing Parliament's public enterprises portfolio committee, SAA senior official Sandra Coetzee said the airline's fleet renewal initiative was necessary because many of the existing 54 aircraft were ageing.

“We are going through a fleet renewal initiative... we are continuing with the Airbus purchase. That purchase is an envelope of 20 aircraft, to be delivered over a period of about six or seven years,” she said.

“The fleet renewal is required for a number of reasons, (including) age of aircraft. Particularly, the age of aircraft is not just a consideration with regard to safety, but very much cost efficiency.”

Coetzee said the new fleet should allow the airline to run certain routes on a far more competitive basis, and also allow more flexibility of switching aircraft between routes.


“Our fleet utilisation will also be far more cost-efficient,” she told MPs.

In the interim, SAA was leasing aircraft on a short-term basis to “fill the gap between the outgoing aircraft, current demand, and the date that the new aircraft are coming in”.

“We are not going on a massive drive of acquisition of new aircraft. What we are doing is, we are increasing our flexibility (and) fleet utilisation and cost efficiency. Our focus for now... is fleet replacement, rather than a significant expansion of fleet,” she said.

SAA currently has 54 aircraft.

"We are in the process of adding two wide-bodied aircraft right now... (and) over the three-year planning horizon of our current corporate plan we will be going up to 58 aircraft."

Coetzee said she could not immediately give a breakdown of the type of aircraft currently being operated or their ages.