Cape Town - Airline fares between Cape Town and Joburg rose steeply after low-cost airline 1Time stopped flying at the end of last year. The good news is that fares are certain to drop again when at least one new low-cost airline, FlySafair, starts to compete with Mango and Kulula on the route in a few weeks’ time.
Safair, which for 50 years has provided back-up services to other airlines, including substituting an unmarked aircraft with crew if for any reason a flight would otherwise have had to be cancelled, has decided to launch its own scheduled service.
Chief executive Dave Andrew said tickets will go on sale next month and by the last quarter of the year FlySafair will be operating 10 flights a day. It will use two Boeing 737-300s on the route and intends offering competitive fares.
Safair has years of experience in providing aircraft leasing, maintenance, special operations, chartering and training services.
Although the airline industry is going through tough times, both business travel and tourism are starting to rise and are expected to grow in the coming year.
Comair, which owns Kulula, has lodged an objection to the granting of a licence to Safair on the grounds that, although it meets the requirement of being 75 percent owned by South Africans, most of the profits will go to the Irish company owning the remaining 25 percent. If the objection is successful it may stop or delay Safair’s launch.
Rodney James, one of the partners who founded and later sold 1Time, has been granted a licence for a new airline, Skywise, to fly the Cape Town to Joburg route but has made no arrangements for airport facilities or ticket sales.
Virgin comes back
Virgin Atlantic, which flies nonstop to London from Joburg throughout the year, will return to Cape Town as usual for the summer season – this time with a larger aircraft, which will help to compensate for the loss of SAA’s direct flights from here to London/Heathrow, which it was feared would result in fewer British tourists coming here. The service will start on October 27.
British Airways, which flies here all year round, with one flight a day in winter and two a day in summer, is the only other airline that has nonstop flights between London and Cape Town.
SAA wage deal
South African Airways Technical, SAA’s maintenance subsidiary, has signed a wage deal with the Aviation Union of Southern Africa to which many of the airline’s engineers and technical staff belong. But SAA was still negotiating with the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, 752 members of which were on strike when this column was written. SAA said only two flights had been delayed, each for a few minutes, as a result of the strike.
Bid to reduce CO2
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and most of the world’s leading airlines, with aircraft and engine manufacturers, are working to reduce the industry’s carbon dioxide emissions.
Among other measures, the newest aircraft are lighter and consume less fuel.
Emirates president Tim Clark has contributed an article to a book being prepared for Expo 2020 in Dubai explaining that his airline is playing a leading part in the battle against climate change by investing in one of the most modern fleets in the world.
In addition to this it has developed systems that cut flight times, and introduced measures to cut emissions by its ground operations. - Weekend Argus