South African Airways (SAA) announced on Thursday that it was assigning its new Airbus A330-300 wide-body airliners to its Johannesburg/London route, with effect from March 25. It also announced that it was cutting the daily frequency of its flights between Johannesburg and London to one, from the current two, with effect from April 20.
SAA received five A330-300s last year. “Our announcement to introduce the new A330-300 on the very competitive London route next month is exciting and positive news to our customers,” affirmed SAA CEO Vuyani Jarana. The new aircraft are outfitted to take 249 passengers, comprising 203 in economy class and 46 in business class.
The new A330-300s are powered by very fuel efficient Rolls-Royce Trent engines, reducing fuel consumption (and so costs), cutting carbon emissions and producing less noise. The aircraft are also fitted with advanced navigation systems and other avionics.
The cutting of frequencies to London is part of the airline’s route optimisation plan. SAA is not giving up its second “slot” into London’s Heathrow Airport, but leasing it to another airline. This means that, once the lease has expired, SAA will have the option of returning to two flights a day on this route.
“We have decided to focus on those areas of our business that will enhance our efficiencies, bring more value to our customers and produce improved overall performance of the airline,” he said. “Network optimisation is one such area that can contribute towards containing our costs and we introduced some initiatives that must yield dividends to return the business to commercial sustainability in the shortest time possible.”
“We will continue to operate the daily non-stop SA234/SA235 [Johannesburg/London and London/Johannesburg] service which offers customers convenient connections into and out of Johannesburg on SAA and our codeshare partners’ domestic and regional network,” assured Jarana. The airline will provide a flexible approach to re-assigning passengers already booked on the to-be-discontinued SA236/SA237 service to the earlier SA234/SA235 service.