South African Airways (SA, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) is replacing its only remaining A340-300 with a similar capacity aircraft and will exit its A319-100 fleet in 2023, says Chief Commercial Officer Tebogo Tsimane.

"As we increase fleet size to match the needs of the growing network schedule, we are encouraged that our strategy to cautiously re-enter markets abandoned due to the Covid pandemic has served us very well during the past 12 months, and we will continue to follow that cautious risk-adjusted trajectory," he said in a statement. The A340-300 is currently used as a spare to support the schedule during required fleet maintenance or when capacity demand requires the deployment of a larger aircraft.

SAA is also leasing three more A320-200s, bringing the total number of A320s in its fleet to five to support expected high-capacity demand as South Africa's peak summer holiday season approaches in December. As reported, the first of these - ZS-SZD (msn 6007) - was delivered on September 25, 2022, and is currently in maintenance in Johannesburg. The rest will be delivered monthly thereafter.

Over the last two weeks, SAA has also switched on some days from a narrowbody A320-200 to a larger widebody A330-300 on two of its busiest routes to Harare International (Zimbabwe) from Johannesburg O.R. Tambo and Cape Town International.

According to the ch-aviation fleets module, SAA's currently operates seven Airbus aircraft, including;

"SAA's current business plan is to ramp up operations aggressively and to implement a fleet strategy that will continue to gain momentum of growing our regional-continental services and introduce international-long haul services," Tsimane added.

SAA Executive Chairman John Lamola said the additional seat capacity would help to restore the balance between supply and demand in the market. Airfares in the domestic and regional sectors have sky-rocketed following the exit of Comair (South Africa) (which held 40% domestic market share), SAA's budget subsidiary Mango Airlines, and regional feeder South African Express.

Despite ongoing delays with the implementation of the capital restructuring transaction involving the Takatso Consortium, the government's preferred strategic equity (SEP) partner for the semi-privatisation of SAA, the airline insists it "is on course to deliver a commercially sustainable and world-class air passenger and cargo services in South Africa, regionally and soon globally".

"There is a clear demarcation of focus between the SAA management that is driving a plan for competitive airline operations and the oversight of matters relating to the SEP, which are being managed by the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE). SAA management is relentlessly implementing the expansion of the airline to match market dynamics in both the domestic and international scene," it stated.