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Back In The Skies: The South African Airways Fleet In 2022

Last year, South African Airways restarted operations after a tumultuous period of financial uncertainty. It did so with a heavily streamlined fleet, after the carrier’s struggles meant that many of its aircraft had to return to their lessors. Four months on from restarting scheduled flights, let’s take a look at the planes that remain at SAA’s disposal today.

South African Airways’ restructuring has left it with a rather small fleet. Photo: Airbus

Most numerous – the Airbus A319

According to data from ch-aviation.com, there are presently just eight aircraft in the South African Airways fleet. Of these, three are examples of Airbus’s A319-100 narrowbody twinjet. All of these aircraft are presently active, and they have an average age of 17 years old. Historically speaking, SAA has flown a further eight examples of the Airbus A319-100.

The airline configures its A319-100s with a two-class setup that accommodates 120 passengers. 95 of these are seated in the six-abreast economy class cabin, where standard seats offer 21-32 inches of pitch. Meanwhile, the remaining 25 passengers use the aircraft’s 25-seat business class section. Configured with five seats per row, the seat pitch here is 36 inches.

So where does SAA fly its A319s? At the time of writing, data from RadarBox.com showed that ZS-SFJ was inflight between Cape Town and Johannesburg. This was also the route on which ZS-SFK had last seen service. Meanwhile, ZS-SFL had ventured slightly further afield. At the time of writing, it was preparing to fly from Harare, Zimbabwe back to Cape Town.

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South African Airways Airbus A319
Three of SAA’s Airbus A319s survived the company’s restructuring. Photo: Alan Wilson via Flickr

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Two A320s

Accompanying South African Airways’ three Airbus A319-100s in the narrowbody department are a pair or larger A320-200s. These twinjets are significantly younger than their short-fuselage counterparts, clocking in at an average age of seven years old. In addition to the two examples SAA presently flies, it has also historically operated another 17 A320-200s.

These aircraft are fitted with 114 economy (six-abreast, 31-inch pitch) and 24 business class (four-abreast, 39-inch pitch) seats. At the time of writing, data from RadarBox showed that one example, ZS-SZJ, had most recently flown from Kinshasa to Johannesburg. Funnily enough, this was also the route on which the other A320, ZS-SZI, last saw service.

South African Airways, Airbus A320, First Flight
South African Airways’ A320s are its youngest narrowbody aircraft on average. Photo: Getty Images

Minimal widebody action at present

The data available on ch-aviation lists three widebody aircraft as being part of the present South African Airways fleet. Like the carrier’s narrowbody jets, SAA’s twin-aisle setup is also an all-Airbus affair. It consists of a single A330-300, as well as two four-engined A340-600s.

However, neither of the A340s are active at present. Data from RadarBox shows that ZS-SNF hasn’t flown since arriving in Johannesburg from the Philippines in August 2020. Meanwhile, ZS-SNG last flew from Accra to Johannesburg in September 2021.

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As such, South African Airways’ single A330-300 is the carrier’s only active widebody. Registered as ZS-SXM, it is just 4.75 years old, and has been deployed on services throughout Africa this month. It featured 203 economy class seats and 46 business class flatbeds.

What do you make of South African Airways’ present fleet? Have you flown with the airline since it restarted operations? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

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