South African Airways has announced plans to operate its newest A330-300 aircraft between Heathrow and Johannesburg, but in turn will cut frequency on the route to just one flight per day.
The carrier currently serves Heathrow with A330-200 aircraft, but from March 25 will introduce the A330-300 onto the route.
The larger aircraft has a total of 249 seats (compared to 222 on the A330-200), with 46 fully flat seats in business (compared to 36).
From April 20 SAA will drop flights SA236 and SA237 between Johannesburg and Heathrow, leaving SA234 (departing Johannesburg at 2000) and SA235 (departing Heathrow at 1900).
Business class on the A330-300 is configured 1-2-1, with features including 23 inches of seat width, a bed which extends to “almost two metres”, a 15-inch TV screen, individual power socket and USB port, and “a large tray table…” which “pops out when pushing the tray table button, which is more user-friendly than traditional tray tables”.
There is also a new economy seat configured 2-4-2, offering 203 slimline seats, with 10.1-inch TV screens, individual USB charging ports, and shared access to power sockets.
Commenting on the news SAA’s CEO, Vuyani Jarana said:
“We have decided to focus on those areas of our business that will enhance our efficiencies, bring more value to our customers and produce improved overall performance of the airline. Network optimisation is one such area that can contribute towards containing our costs and we introduced some initiatives that must yield dividends to return the business to commercial sustainability in the shortest time possible.
“We have also decided to upgrade the service operating between Johannesburg and London Heathrow to the new Airbus A330-300 with effect from Sunday, 25 March 2018. This will afford customers a significantly improved on-board business and economy product, with state-of-the-art technology, increased comfort and capacity.”
SAA says it has leased the second Heathrow slot to an unnamed airline, which will give the carrier much needed revenue, while “giving the airline the flexibility to reinstate a second flight at the end of the lease period, providing the airline an opportunity to grow and develop in the future”.
It added that customer booked on the SA236/SA237 service beyond the end of its operation would be offered “a flexible re-accommodation policy”, allowing them to “switch onto the earlier SA234/SA235 service and enjoy the new aircraft”.