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SAA to operate leased A350-900s

South African Airways is to modernise its fleet with a pair of Airbus A350-900s, which will be introduced in the second half of this year.

The airline has given few details about the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-powered twinjets but says they will be leased, and configured with lie-flat beds in the business cabin as well as 246 economy seats – with extra legroom in the first six rows.

SAA intends to use the aircraft to replace A340-600s on its route from Johannesburg to New York JFK.

The modernisation is an "important indication of our commitment to the implementation of our turnaround strategy", says a spokesman for the carrier.

He says the aircraft will assist with the airline's efforts to achieve financial stability in the "shortest time possible", by offering improved operating costs and route prospects, as well as enhancing the travel experience for passengers.

SAA will lease the two aircraft for up to three years. It has declined to identify the leasing source.

But it says it will take delivery of the aircraft in the second half of the year, adding that they will operate in SAA colours.

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