South African Airways to resume international flights with aging Airbus A340s

Quadrijet is considered an inefficient aircraft and is being withdrawn from service by several airlines. SAA’s first long-haul route will be to Brazil from October

South African Airways (SAA), the country’s flag carrier, intends to resume long-haul flights from October and chose São Paulo, in Brazil, as its first international destination.

The flights will depart from Cape Town starting October 31 and from Johannesburg starting November 6, according to the company.

With the fleet greatly reduced compared to the past, SAA revealed that the two flights will be operated with the Airbus A340-300, a four-engine widebody aircraft that is practically retired in most parts of the world.

Launched in the 1990s, the A340-300 was the largest variant of the original family, accounting for 218 of the 246 jets manufactured. The widebody uses CFM56 engines while the more successful twin-engine A330 was offered by Airbus with a choice of CF6, PW4000 and Trent 700 turbofans.

South African Airways had 17 A340s in its long-haul fleet (Hansueli Krapf)

At the time, the A340 promised greater range, something that the twin-engine aircraft soon managed to offer, combined with the expansion of ETOPS limits – which defines the distance that an alternative airport must be in case of a failure in one of the engines.

Tickets on sale

South African has already operated several A340s, but currently only has one active aircraft, the ZS-SXF, received second-hand in 2007 and which has been flying for over 18 years.

Airbus, however, reports that SAA has four of these aircraft, the largest fleet for a western airline after Lufthansa, which has 17 four-engine aircraft in service.

The carrier even flew the A350 through leasing years ago

The South African carrier also has a much newer A330-300, just six years old and configured to carry 249 passengers in two classes. The A340-300, in turn, had 253 seats, 38 in business class and 215 in economy class.

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Flights to São Paulo, the largest South American city, were announced in June amid SAA’s recovery plan after nearly going bankrupt.

The airline announced the launch of promotional fares on both routes, starting at $686 for travel between October 31 and March 31, 2024.


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