South African Airways (SAA) has taken delivery on Tuesday of the first two of 20 A320 Airbus planes that the airline has on order from Airbus.
The shipment of the state-of-the-art, fuel-efficient aircraft is set to deliver significant cost efficiencies while allowing South Africa's national carrier to expand its regional route network in the rapidly growing sub-Saharan African market.
The A320s will replace SAA's current fleet of 737-800s and augment the A319s it already has in service.
Airbus describes the A320 as "the world's best-selling and most modern single-aisle aircraft", with over 9 600 ordered and more than 5 600 delivered to over 380 operators worldwide.
"With proven reliability and extended servicing periods, the A320 family has the lowest operating costs of any single-aisle aircraft," Airbus said in a statement on Wednesday.
"Operating a modern and homogenous fleet plays a significant role in cost reduction and boosting revenue," SAA chief executive Monwabisi Kalawe said. "The A320 will assist SAA to achieve this while providing our passengers with a more superior cabin product."
John Leahy, Airbus's chief operating officer for customers, said that South African Airways "has long been regarded as a bellwether for Africa on aircraft selection, and we are looking forward to expanding our relationship.
"Our reliable, fuel-efficient and comfortable A320s will give SAA a competitive edge and help the airline achieve sustainable profitability."