South African Airways placed Africaå‘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 Africaå‘s Minister of Public Enterprises, Jeff Radebe, SAA President and CEO, AndrÌ© Viljoen and Airbus President and CEO, NoÌÇl 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.