PICS | SAA's 1st of four brand new A350-900 jets just began operating between Cape Town and Joburg

Santa put something pretty amazing in South African Airways (SAA) Business Rescue Christmas stocking.

SAA's first of four new Airbus A350-900 jets, delivered in October, began operating on one Africa's most competitive routes on Christmas eve - and is expected to improve the airline’s customer offering and commercial prospects.

Its first commercial domestic route departed from Johannesburg to Cape Town, operating as flight SA323, and returned as flight SA336 from Cape Town to Johannesburg on 24 December.

READ: SAA receives first new Airbus A350 set to get the airline 'back on track' 

UPDATE: What travellers need to know about SAA's business rescue

Fleet renewal has been a major focus for the embattled airline currently undergoing business rescue and more routes will be operated by the Airbus A350-900s, including SAA’s ultra-long haul routes between Johannesburg and New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK). 

The A350 will replace the Airbus A340-600 and will still operate Johannesburg – New York on a nonstop basis. SAA says it "will operate the aircraft for three years". 

“We are pleased to offer our customers a superior customer experience with the commercial introduction of the new Airbus A350 aircraft, which offers the quietest cabin of any twin-aisle aircraft,” says Zuks Ramasia, SAA’s Acting CEO.

How does the A350-900 improve passenger experience?

The Airbus A350-900 is configured with a maximum of 339 seats, of which 30 are Business Class seats and 309 are Economy Class seats, with the first six rows in Economy Class offering extra legroom to provide a more comfortable experience, especially on longer flights.

The Business Class cabin has lie flat beds.

The aircraft also offers a modern In-flight Entertainment (IFE) system throughout the cabin - which is also quieter - offering a more relaxing environment during flight.

'Cost saving measures on Fuel, maintenance and taxes'

Ramasia says, "The commonality and common type rating between the Airbus A350-900 XWB powered aircraft and the other Airbus aircraft in SAA’s fleet translate directly into cost saving for training pilots, crew, engineers and technicians as well as for spares inventory."

The A350-900 XWB has excellent range/payload performance on long-haul flights departing from Johannesburg and SAA expects to see 25% lower operating costs using the A350-900 XWB, over a 5-year period, compared with some of its four-engine aircraft generation that have similar range and payload capabilities.

Add to that some 25% savings in fuel consumption and emissions, as well as about 40% lower costs for maintaining the A350-900 XWB’s. 

Besides lower operating costs, it will also reduce SAA’s exposure to South Africa’s recently imposed Carbon Tax because it is more environmentally friendly and helps it achieve global emissions offset mechanism targets, for international aviation requirements.

PICS | SAA Captain does the exceptional after spotting little boy boarding with pilot's hat

 SAA begins operating first of four new A350-900 c

(Photo: SAA, Twitter)

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