SAA to lose 737s after forgetting to renew leases

SAA 737s
Cargo variants of the 737, two examples of which SAA will lose. Pohotograph: AirSpace user Keith Gaskell


If you know of an airline with too much bureaucracy, please have them ship cartons of red tape and forms in triplicate to South African Airways.

At the end of this month the carrier will remove two leased 737-800 aircraft from its fleet–but not because it wants to.

The carrier is believed to have “forgotten” to renew the 737s’ leases, according to a local media report. But don’t worry: a spokesman declines to comment on the accusation, except to say the 737 loss is no “train smash”.

A spokeswoman for the SAA Pilots Association said the aircraft were being returned as their leases were ending, without commenting whether the return was intentional or not.

Train smash or not, the carrier is understood to have held a meeting stretching into Wednesday evening about what to do.

The spokesman said SAA may look to increase the fleet’s efficiency, but confirmed no routes or frequencies would be cut as a result of the expiring leased 737s, as well as a third 737 being transferred to SAA’s low-cost subsidiary Mango. In fact, Mr No Train Smash says, the carrier would look to expand this year.

Although SAA plans to replace its 737s with A320-series jets, that will not occur until 2013. The carrier is reportedly due to receive 2 A330-200s this year, but those are pegged to be used on long-haul routes.

This is apparently not the first such instance of forgetting about capital investments.
Last year, the media report says, it became public that SAA believed a contract with Airbus had already been canceled and so SAA did not cancel the contract.

But again, this isn’t a train smash.

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6 Responses to SAA to lose 737s after forgetting to renew leases

  1. Paulo M (Johannesburg, RSA) 17 January, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    Sho. I don’t think they’ll be ordering from Boeing in a while.

    Anyway, in this case, noone is to blame. Except this: walala, wasala.

  2. Mike Clayton 20 January, 2011 at 3:28 am #

    You’d have to say the Leasing Company was taking a gamble here. Surely, it had another customer/s lined-up for these airplanes.
    Had > S A A elected to renew,then it would have been “in a train crash” situation! Boom-boom!

  3. Will Horton 24 January, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    That is a more positive explanation, but SAA has not said as much, and you’d think they would rather say they could not come to a commercial agreement rather than leave hanging the possibility they forgot.

  4. Paulo M (Johannesburg, RSA) 25 January, 2011 at 5:25 am #

    Why did they say they forgot?

    Not everyone at SAA is an idiot, but some senior positions at the company have consistently done them a disservice over the last around 10 years – irrespective of who has been occupying the positions.

  5. Raydon 26 January, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    Wow, some people! As far as I can remember, it might not be a train smash because SAA plans to use one of their A330 for domestic routes for the first month before switching over to long haul. Maybe it’ll just be a transition period for SAA. And with the 737s going over to Mango, will we see more flights operated by Mango for SAA?

  6. Paulo M (Johannesburg, RSA) 26 January, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

    IMHO, the 737 leases would be something the airline would like to forget, they were hugely expensive. They were signed by then CEO, Coleman Andrews. Of course, the timing meant the deal got expensive later on.

    Fuss about choice of word.

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