South African Airways will fly its A350 to Frankfurt

Jan 30, 2020

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South African Airways is bringing its new Airbus A350 aircraft to Europe. As of February, South African’s existing route to Frankfurt will get the A350 aircraft — the airline’s second destination to get the new plane.

As reported by One Mile at a Time, the carrier’s A350 will fly between Johannesburg (JNB) and Frankfurt (FRA) as of February 7, 2020. The A350-operated flight will fly on the following schedule:

  • SA260 Johannesburg (JNB) 8:25 p.m. Departure ⇒ Frankfurt (FRA) 6:15 a.m. (+1) Arrival
  • SA261 Frankfurt (FRA) 8:45 p.m. Departure ⇒ Johannesburg (JNB) 8:25 a.m. (+1) Arrival

The route is currently operated by one of the carrier’s old A340-600 aircraft. The replacement represents an improvement in terms of passenger comfort, given the hard product on the A340 was outdated.

In addition to this Frankfurt route, South African also uses A350 aircraft on its route to New York (JFK). South African has taken delivery of four leased A350 aircraft: two originally intended for Hainan Airlines and two originally intended for Air Mauritius.

TPG Managing Editor Alberto Riva flew one of South African’s A350s between New York and Johannesburg, knowing that the Air Mauritius layout was preferred in business class, as it’s a 1-2-1 layout, rather than the 2-2-2 layout installed for Hainan. However, the A350 used on the New York route for his flight was the Hainan variant, featuring 30 seats in five rows of six.

He found the A350 to be a general improvement on the route over its dated predecessor, but found the lack of Wi-Fi, no aisle access for all business-class passengers and issues with the soft product to be major flaws.

(Photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy)

The biggest challenge with South African’s fleet of A350s is that the passenger experience is vastly different between the former Hainan and Air Mauritius aircraft. If you have the choice, try to fly with one of the A350 registered as ZS-SDE or ZS-SDF, as they’re the former Air Mauritius aircraft.

Based on seat maps loaded on ExpertFlyer, which is owned by TPG’s parent company Red Ventures, South African has the Hainan A350s loaded on this route.

The airline is continuing to make major route adjustments, such as the A350 to New York and Frankfurt, although it is still bankrupt. It’s still operating thanks to emergency funds from the South African government. As a result of its financial difficulties, South African has been forced to cancel some flights and park some aircraft.

Featured photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy.

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