SunExpress to double number of aircraft leased to South African Airways  

Max Kownatzki

SunExpress and South African Airways (SAA) have extended and expanded their current partnership agreement, which means the Turkish-German airline will be sending two additional aircraft to South Africa for the 2024/25 winter season. This will bring the total number of aircraft leased to South African Airways to four.  

During the summer season of 2023/24, SunExpress has committed two of its Boeing 737-800 aircraft to domestic operations in South Africa on behalf of South African Airways under a damp-lease agreement. SunExpress has provided the aircraft and cockpit crew as well as all the related maintenance. The cabin crew is South African. 

SunExpress has proven to be an extremely reliable partner for us in the first few months. We are therefore delighted that this valuable partnership will not only be continued but the scope of the partnership expanded to include additional aircraft for our 2024 holiday peak season,” said South African Airways CEO, John Lamola, during the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two airlines on December 18, 2023. 


“The additional aircraft will support our operations to meet the growing customer demand during peak seasons and mitigate our management of the global aircraft availability crisis,” he added.  

With most of its route network based around the resort towns of the Turkish Riviera, SunExpress can see demand troughs of up to 30% in winter.  

During an interview at the Dubai Airshow 2023, SunExpress CEO, Max Kownatzki, told AeroTime that a partnership with South African Airways would help the Antalya and Frankfurt-based airline mitigate the effects of seasonality during winter in the northern hemisphere.  

The two airlines are exploring further cooperation over the longer term, including in areas such as maintenance, training and commercial support. 

The two B737-800s that SunExpress currently has in South Africa operate up to 12 flights a day on the trunk routes linking Johannesburg (JNB) to Cape Town (CPT) and Durban (DUR). Next season they will also fly the route between Johannesburg and Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport, Port Elizabeth (PLZ). 

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