South African Airways To Debut New A350 On European Route

In an effort to make South African Airways’ fleet more efficient, SAA has leased four A350’s – two from Hainan and two from Air Mauritius. Over the last few months, the airline has been utilizing the planes on short-haul domestic flights, primarily between Johannesburg and Capetown.

However, I posted a few days ago that the first pair were placed on the Johannesburg (JNB) – New York (JFK) route. And now we know the schedule for the second pair as it was just announced by SAA.


South African Airways will begin flying the A350 daily between Johannesburg and Frankfurt as of 2 February 2020 with the following schedule:

SA260 JNB-FRA departing 8:25PM arriving 6:15AM (+1 day)
SA261 FRA-JNB departing 8:45PM arriving 8:25AM (+1 day)

The airline currently uses an old and outdated A340-600 on Johannesburg-Frankfurt route which is the same plane they used on the Johannesburg-New York route.


I’m actually surprised with the route planning. Between the two routes, the airline will have two A350s on the ground nearly all day, every day in each city which is a complete waste.

I hope that SAA doesn’t waste time and resources and also schedules these planes on regional or international flights during that downtime or they will find themselves even further in debt.


THE GOOD NEWS is in the last 24 hours, SAA was once again saved from collapse after the airline received funding of 3.5 billion South African Rands (~$239 million USD) from a state-owned bank. They are in possession of their 4 A350’s and have them scheduled to fly. All of this will hopefully alleviate some financial stress.

Additionally, there is some scattered award availability on the JFK-JNB route according to United. Although it’s not a lot, it’s definitely better than what it was – zero availability – when I wrote the original article. And you can leave as soon as tomorrow if you’d like…

THE SORT OF BAD NEWS is SAA (understandably) has four A350s with two different kinds of business class products given the planes were initially supposed to go to two other carriers:

  • Two South African Airways A350-900s were designed for Hainan Airlines, and have fully flat seats in a 2-2-2 configuration
  • Two South African Airways A350-900s were designed for Air Mauritius, and have staggered seats in a 1-2-1 configuration

I have no idea whether they will update these cabins for product consistency. But the configurations are worth noting because, although better than the outdated 340, the 2-2-2 configuration is less than ideal and they are currently operating that those planes on the NYC route.

THE REALLY BAD NEWS is there is no award availability for business class between Johannesburg and Frankfurt at the moment.


It’s exciting to see South African Airways scheduling and deploying their new A350s on these routes.

You may be aware that I am attempting to schedule some reviews and South African Airways is high on my list if I can make the timing work.

I’ll keep you updated on the progress.

Have you ever flown on South African Airways? What was your experience?

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