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Cape Town - Air Mauritius has introduced flights to several new destinations in the past few months and is now competing with European and Middle Eastern airlines in offering them to SA travellers leaving from Joburg.
In addition to London and Paris, to which it has flown for years, it now offers Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi in India, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and the Australian city of Perth. It also offers seamless connections, by which it means a waiting time for the connection at its home airport of up to three hours.
If the wait exceeds this, the airline will pay for a night’s stopover on the island at a hotel within easy reach of the airport – a pleasant break in a long journey.
At present the airline flies daily to Mauritius from Joburg and twice a week from Cape Town.
From November 1, when it will withdraw its service to Mauritius from Durban, it will increase its flights from Cape Town to three a week and those from Joburg will be twice daily.
A spokesperson told me the change, like less welcome ones made by some other airlines, was caused by the need to streamline the operation and increase efficiency as a result of the soaring costs.
Mauritius has, for years, been a favourite holiday destination for South Africans and this year has been no exception with the weak rand making travel to Europe more expensive, and with new hotels opening.
It is also attracting more business travel, with more connections being formed between SA and Mauritian companies.
The best bargain in air fares at present seems to be British Airways’ cut-price business class return fares to New York from Joburg, by way of London, of R39 870 inclusive of taxes and charges.
Daniel Bainbridge, BA’s strategic commercial development manager in this country, says the offer is “not likely to be repeated soon” and that an added benefit is that South Africans travelling to the US by way of London do not have to pay for a transit visa. That is, if they don’t leave the airport.
Another bargain, for social media addicts, is that low-cost airline Mango, which now has in-flight wi-fi on five of its six aircraft (with the sixth due to have it by the end of September), is discounting all on-board access to the service by 50 percent during August between Cape Town and Joburg.
The use of Facebook and Twitter will be at no cost apart from video uploads.
Even for those of us who prefer to be out of contact with the ground when in the air, Mango is offering a fare between Cape Town and burg from R699.
Mango recently carried its eight millionth passenger. It has a smaller route network than rivals kulula.com and 1Time, but its market share on the routes it flies increased to just below 20 percent in June. - Weekend Argus