What do you think? I think the A340-500 would suit South African Airways in the long haul sector. They are going in the long run towards an all Airbus fleet and they already have the A340-600 which is their new flagship. The A340-500 has a slight less capacity but has a greater range.
The advantages of the A340-500 are the following:
1. No ETOPS restrictions (That is the reason why they decided not to buy Boeing 777's).
2. Commonality with the 600, that would save costs in flight crew and MX
crew training. Exact same flightdeck and a lot of common spare parts. Of course all amenities found in the PAX Business and Coach cabins of the 600 would also be found in the 500.
3. As stated, it has a very long range. Range isn't the only factor to consider when choosing a new aircraft but SAA would need it if they want to expand on long intercontinental routes. The A380 is also considered but it would suit only the LHR
routes because those are the ones that are the most profitable for SAA. The A340-500 would be good for SAA on other routes where load factor isn't as high as it is on the LHR
routes but distance to cover nonstop is very long.
4. Good climb performance. That's quite an important factor to consider for aircraft flying out of JNB
. SAA's home base, JNB
, has a high elevation above ground level, over 5000ft MSL I would say.
5. Considering all aircraft SAA purchased from Airbus already, SAA could negociate a good deal with Airbus.
I'm convinced the A340-500 suits South African Airways. It would look terrific in SAA's current livery.