South African Airways (SAA)is working to finalise its delayed order for Boeing 777s by the end of March, following the US manufacturer's offer of revised delivery positions. The move comes as SAA is undergoing a major management restructuring to prepare it for privatisation.

The carrier and Boeing announced in November 1995 a deal for seven 777s (four firm orders, plus three options), for delivery from April 1997. The failure to conclude an agreement with an engine supplier, however, combined with protracted negotiations over offset agreements, caused the deal to be put on hold, and SAA's delivery positions were forfeited.

Subject to final agreement, the latest schedule is understood to call for two 777s to be delivered to SAA in late 1998, two the following year and three in 2000.

An engine selection has still not been announced, but sources close to the negotiations suggest that the Rolls-Royce Trent 800 is the leading contender.

Source: Flight International