South Africa’s national carrier SAA plans to increase its fleet capacity to meet demand for the peak holiday season.
The airline currently operates seven Airbus aircraft, including two A320s, three A319s, one A330-300 and one A340-300. The airline will add an additional three A320 narrowbodies, bringing the total number of A320s in SAA’s fleet to five.
The first of the additional aircraft was delivered on September 25, 2022, and SAA said that the remaining two will arrive in October and November of this year.
This fleet expansion comes at a difficult time for South African aviation. SAA has been through a restructuring process and domestic carrier Comair has recently gone out of service, meaning there is now one less carrier in the South African market. The resulting lack of capacity means ticket prices have increased.
“The addition of extra seat capacity in the market enables the achievement of an equilibrium between supply and demand in the market that affects the pricing of air tickets,” said SAA Executive Chairman John Lamola in a statement on October 12, 2022.
The fleet expansion is part of SAA’s strategy to grow regional-continental services as well as introduce more international long-haul services.
To increase capacity, SAA said it had been partly using a larger A330 aircraft on two of its busiest routes, from Johannesburg to Harare and Cape Town, over the last two weeks.
SAA Chief Commercial Officer Tebogo Tsimane also said SAA will exit the A319 fleet in 2023. Tsimane added: “As we increase fleet size to match the needs of the growing network schedule, we are encouraged that our strategy to cautiously re-enter markets abandoned due to the Covid pandemic has served us very well during the past twelve month, and we will continue to follow that cautious risk-adjusted trajectory.”