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Why Did SAA Get Rid Of Their A320's?  
User currently offlineAmerican 767 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 4638 posts, RR: 12
Posted (13 years 4 months 3 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 4650 times:

Hello everybody,

First I would like to wish you all a happy new year 2003. I just came back yesterday from a trip to South Africa (I flew KLM to Cape Town, I haven't had time yet to make a trip report, rest assured folks, I will make one when I have time) and I noticed that South African Airways was operating only B737 aircraft (200 and 800 series) on it's domestic system, mainly on it's Johannesburg-Cape Town route. They used to operate A300 and A320 aircraft and I noticed they got rid of both types when I was in South Africa.
I can understand that they got rid of the A300's because those were getting old, the first one was delivered in the 70's when the type was new, but what I don't understand is why they got rid of the younger A320's as well and keep instead it's old B737-200's. They got rid of the A320's, sold them to TAM in Brazil, and now they want to go back to an all-Airbus fleet. They ordered additional A320 aircraft along with the brand new A340-600 which was recently delivered. Now they want to get rid of the 737-800's!
They order an aircraft, get rid of it, order another one, get rid of that one and then they order again an aircraft they previously got rid of. Does that make sense? I don't understand.

Ben Soriano
Brussels Belgium

Ben Soriano
8 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineSA-JET From South Africa, joined exactly 16 years ago today! , 297 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (13 years 4 months 3 weeks 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 4619 times:

Ben, you're right, it does not make sense. SAA has gone through a tough patch these past few years in terms of management and all parts of operations, and I think that the chop-and-change we see in the fleet selection is a process of that. About four (maybe three?) years ago SAA brought in an American (Coleman Andrews) to run the airline, as it was going under in a serious way. He implemented (for better or worse, and many would say worse) numerous steps to get the airline back into the black, one was to standardise the fleet. It might be unfair, but as an American, he might have had loyalties to Boeing, and as SAA has a long and distinguised relationship with Seattle, that angle was pushed.
Andrews realised that SAA deploying A300 on the CPT-JNB-DUR triangle was causing the company to loose money by using big jets on routes that are not busy all times of the day, and also the airline did not have that many frequencies between those stations on a daily basis. So, 737-800s are picked, and many of them. The strategy: smaller aircraft, more frequencies-this model is apparently the preferred one for yield maximisation purposes.
Crew were dissapointed that the A320 had to go, and the new 737s were giving the company problems, such as poor cargo capacity, poor turn-around times, pilots not happy with flight-deck (this I gather from comments on PPRUNE), the list goes on.
Andrews though made far more enemies than friends at Airways Park in Johannesburg, and suddenly got the boot. (reason: not understanding the complexity of the SA culture, too much of a laissez-faire approach, annoying many airline people by side-stepping them and bringing in US airline consultants, an SAA-internet venture that went seriously belly-up before it hardly started, thus loosing tens of millions of US dollars. This is one side, he also claims that as usual in SA, politics ruled, with gov. looking over his shoulder all the time. However you look at it, he messed up (leaving with a ZAR salary of 200 million).
New CEO, the fleet plan; classic 747s have to go. Boeing and Airbus bid, Boeing with the 777. 777 will not fit SAA fleet, Airbus, keen to get back into the picture, I am sure said to SAA, get rid of pesky 737-800s, and we give you a good deal on 41 odd new aircraft.
As you can see, complex story (far more I'm sure), but I hope it gives you some idea as to why the fleet thing has been a mess.

User currently offlineSAA201 From South Africa, joined May 2001, 521 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (13 years 4 months 3 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 4556 times:

Yes, it was a bad management decision to buy B737-800's which makes the current fleet composition seem confusing. It sounds like a mess now, but it is on the way to being put right. Had SAA stuck with A320's in the first place, the recent orders would have appeared far more logical.

The Airbus family offers a very efficient and practical fleet for SAA's purposes for a variety of reasons. (Jo'burg hot and high conditions, ETOPS restrictions to various destinations etc). I'm sure there are airlines where an all Boeing fleet is more practical and indeed airlines where even a mixed Boeing and Airbus may be beneficial. SAA has been a loyal Boeing customer through the years because Boeing offered products that suited them. However, in SAA's case now, Airbus seems to offer products that suit their current and future network and operational environment. Who knows, in 20 years time, Boeing or possibly some other manufacturer may offer products more suited to the operation.

Just my 2c!

User currently offlineGigneil From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 16347 posts, RR: 79
Reply 3, posted (13 years 4 months 3 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 4542 times:

I bet this time around, they outfit their A320s and 319s with the maximum engine rating available to compensate for the hot-n-hi.

It is unfortunate how it all worked out - if they had just kept the A320s, then this migration would be simpler and there'd be no brand new 737s to get rid of.

I'm amazed in a happy way by their selection of the "new" A340-300 Enhanced. While I'm sure that the A340-600 will have amazing takeoff performance even in their conditions, many have said they aren't impressed with the A340-300's takeoff power, and I've seen some fun takeoffs from PHX for example.

I really think that's more due to the use of FLEX power than anything else, the public opinion I mean.


User currently offlineVambridge From South Africa, joined Apr 2001, 80 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (13 years 4 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 4465 times:

I, for one was very disappointed from a spotters point of view that the A300's were sold. They were money printing machines for SAA, but as has already been mentioned, the CEO may have had another agenda. The pilots loved them,as did the rest of the crew. The passenger numbers were always good.

I am looking forward to the arrival of the new A340's, and am of the opinion that SAA made the correct choice (Airbus), for the new fleet.

BTW, Julian Whitelaw, or Andrew Bremner from SAA cockpit crew, if you read this, give me some feedback. I am curious as to whether you read this forum!!!!


User currently offlineGigneil From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 16347 posts, RR: 79
Reply 5, posted (13 years 4 months 3 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 4339 times:

Does anyone have any details on when the new SAA aircraft are actually to arrive?

We've been seeing the white painted A346s with titles for a while now... when will the planes get there? Any new photos?

User currently offlineGigneil From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 16347 posts, RR: 79
Reply 6, posted (13 years 4 months 3 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 4336 times:

Also, have SAA made an engine selection for their A320s?

They'll be operating a large quantity of A340-300s and -200s, so CFM engines might stand to reason.


User currently offlineSAA201 From South Africa, joined May 2001, 521 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (13 years 4 months 3 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 4294 times:

The first two A340-600's arrive in the last week on January. The first commercial service for SAA is on 28 January 2003, from Jo'burg to Cape Town. The 3rd A340-600 arrives in about the second week of Feb. 4 more A346's will be delivered to SAA by the end of this year. Probably 2 in Oct and 2 in Dec. The last two aircraft should arrive 2005/6.

The first A340-300E arrives in Feb 2004.

The A319's will be delivered from 2005.

The A320's are pencilled in for delivery from 2010 at this stage which is when the current B737-800 leases expire. This date may change should SAA find another airline to take over the B738 leases earlier.

No engine selection for the A319/A320 fleet has been made yet, but CFM would seem a logical choice this time. Last time round SAA used IAE engines.

User currently offlineGigneil From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 16347 posts, RR: 79
Reply 8, posted (13 years 4 months 3 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 4204 times:

Thanks, SAA, very informative.

Make sure you take your camera the 28th.  Smile/happy/getting dizzy


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