Cape Town - Comair has taken delivery of the first of its new-generation Boeing 737-800s to be used on its full-service British Airways franchise. It has already taken delivery of four of these planes for its low-cost kulula.com fleet to reduce emissions of polluting CO2 and reduce costs.
Erik Venter, its chief executive, warns that the introduction of a proposed carbon tax by our government will have the opposite effect by pushing up domestic airlines’ costs and slowing down their fleet replacement plans.
Pointing out that rising costs, particularly since the devaluation of the rand, were already making it difficult for domestic airlines to operate profitably, he said the tax would force them to increase fares, which would discourage tourism.
Venter said the newest plane in British Airways livery would be used on the Cape Town-to-Johannesburg route. A second new-generation BA/Comair plane is due to be delivered early next year.
Our tourism season has started with a bang, with short city break packages arranged by Cape Town Tourism and Thompsons Holidays to attract visitors from other parts of South Africa. Creative Week, organised by Cape Town Tourism, started on Saturday and the Loerie awards ceremonies will be held here next Saturday and Sunday.
A self-drive package is being offered to tempt people from other parts of the country, starting at R1 709 excluding car hire and flights. The fly-in package starts at R4 733 including return flights from Joburg, Durban or Port Elizabeth. It includes four nights’ accommodation bed and breakfast at the Southern Sun opposite the Waterfront and four days’ car hire with 200km free a day.
The effect on direct flights to the UK of the arrival and departure tax is clearly shown in a recent article in the online Business Travel News, which said that the numbers flying into the country from long-haul destinations had dropped this year, while those from Europe had risen. Clearly, canny leisure travellers with European Union passports are breaking their journey in Western European countries and paying a far lower amount of tax to fly into Britain from there, or even avoiding it by entering Britain by train or cross-channel ferry.
Many British travellers,who also have to pay the tax, come here with other European or Middle Eastern airlines in any case, either to take advantage of lower fares or because British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, alone, cannot provide enough seats at certain times of year. And, of course, to avoid the tax. Hopefully the British government will, at last, remove or lower the tax.
Whatever the reason, it seems likely that forecasts of a drop in tourism to Cape Town from Britain as a result of the withdrawal of South African Airways’ (SAA) direct flight between here and London will turn out to be mistaken, particularly as the British economy is at last recovering. But, hopefully, it will show the disastrous effect a tax can have on a country as a tourism destination and its own airlines. Holland withdrew a similar, but much lower, tax when it realised the effect on tourism.
Kenya Airways has signed a codeshare agreement with Air Namibia, enabling daily connections between their hubs in Nairobi and Windhoek through Joburg’s OR Tambo Airport or Zambia. Kenya Airways, which flew directly to Beijing long before SAA introduced its service to the Chinese capital, has also announced a nonstop flight to Guangzhou, in the highly industrialised Pearl River delta, three days a week from November. - Weekend Argus