South African Airways today placed Africa’s largest single jetliner order when it formalised its acquisition of 41 new Airbus aircraft which will be used to modernise its entire fleet.
South Africa’s Minister of Public Enterprises, Jeff Radebe, SAA President and CEO, André Viljoen and Airbus President and CEO, No‘l Forgeard, signed the purchase agreement at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France.
The transaction is the biggest civil commercial procurement order to be undertaken in the history of South Africa. It is also part of SAA’s strategy to provide unrivalled service to South Africa, Africa and global markets.
Deliveries of the 41 new aircraft will commence later this year and continue until 2010. Of the 41 new aircraft, 38 are orders placed on Airbus and three will be acquired through international lease finance corporations. Airbus will provide pilot, cabin crew and technical staff training.
“This purchase sends a clear message that SAA is a key player in the South African economy. It also demonstrates SAA’s support for the principles of the New Partnership of African Development (NEPAD), which has a broader economic and ideological dimension to SAA’s growth in Africa. Through our new fleet, SAA will be able to provide reliable and affordable access to other parts of Africa where rail and road infrastructure has proved to be lacking,” said Viljoen.
“With this new fleet, we will be able to significantly reduce operating costs and increase our efficiencies, through faster turn-around times and optimal utilisation of our crews. The high degree of commonality inherent across our entire new Airbus fleet, will enable us to closely match capacity with demand. This will result in improved yields,” Viljoen said.
The new Airbuses will enable to carry containerised Cargo on our domestic, regional and long-haul services. As a result, these aircraft will be a vital tool in helping SAA to stimulate increased export revenues for the South African economy.
SAA customers can also look forward to more comfort features on these two class only configuration aircraft. For example:
In-flight on-demand with larger private monitors;
Fully adjustable headrests; and
new elegant seat fabric.
Individual reading lights attached to seats;
PC power for laptops;
Double folder tables which can be adjusted for reading;
Seat recline of 65 degrees and leg-rest of 85 degrees;
New elegant seat fabric; and
Increased legroom (65 inch pitch)
The new aircraft will have an on-board telephones to make calls which will be charged to their credit cards. The entire fleet will now boast larger overhead stowages for passenger hand luggage. This important especially for those passengers carrying hand-luggage only but who are connecting between long-haul and domestic/regional flights.
Other future developments include:
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I-explore interactive maps - which can zoom into destinations to display detailed information about area in question.
Touch screen facilities to send and receive e-mail, including SMS.
The new aircraft will also incorporate the latest security enhancements, including the recently certified reinforced cockpit doors.
Viljoen said the new fleet with its state of the art product and superior cabin comfort, would attract more travellers and thereby boosting tourism to the country.