SAA counts kilos to trim costs

USED blankets‚ magazines and left-over food are some of the items SA Airways (SAA) is considering leaving behind in return long-distance flights to make an aircraft lighter and save on fuel costs.

On Tuesday, the airline removed magazines‚ used linen‚ toiletries and leftover food from a A340-600 aircraft on its way back from Munich to reduce extra weight.

According to SAA fuel head Mark Vaughn‚ for every extra kilogram on a long-haul flight‚ about one-third of a litre of fuel is used. Fuel accounts for about 35% of the group’s cost.

SAA consumed more than 120 million litres of jet fuel a month in the 2014 financial year.

However‚ Vaughn said, while removing excess weight was necessary‚ optimising operations was still the best way to reduce fuel costs. He said the airline was looking at ways to shorten routes and optimise landing and take-off techniques to minimise fuel costs without compromising safety.

SAA acting chief executive Nico Bezuidenhout said: “Every kilogram of weight we carry more than we need to is more fuel cost on an aircraft that is already expensive to operate”.

Vaughn said the biggest savings were on operations. “Getting to your flight level optimum quicker and also shorten routing‚ if you can optimise that‚ that is where your biggest savings come in.”

SAA is considering a number of cost-cutting measures as part of its 90-day action plan‚ and its greater long-term turnaround strategy.

Bezuidenhout said the airline was targeting R250-million in savings from renegotiating contracts with suppliers when it completed the 90-day plan on March 21.

So far it had saved R91-million from the contracts in the past 60 days of the plan.

Transport economist and aviation expert Joachim Vermooten said SAA could realise the biggest savings from monitoring its costs and adjusting for increases.

-Andiswa Maqutu

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