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Taxes are one of the reasons that airlines, worldwide, are struggling. Another has been the soaring price of jet fuel, which has at last come down from the record levels it reached during the past year and, as a result, SAA has cut the cost of international and domestic flights.
The fuel levy that the airline charges has come down by about R116 per segment for long-haul return flights and R83 on domestic flights. This, says chief executive Siza Mzimela, more than compensates for the carbon emissions tax of n2 (about R20.68) imposed by the EU on incoming flights from long haul destinations which the airline is paying, under protest, from next month. The biggest drop in the levy is on African routes to destinations where the price of fuel is particularly high. The average reduction in the levy on return flights to these is R249.
Meanwhile, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) organised a series of flights by different airlines using only sustainable biofuels to bring its secretary general, Raymond Benjamin, from Montreal to the UN conference on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro last week. This illustrated these fuels could replace the heavily polluting jet fuel made from fossil oil if they could be produced in sufficient quantity at economic prices.
Aircraft manufacturers were involved in the arrangement and, simultaneously, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flew an aircraft powered by fuel made from used cooking oil from Amsterdam to Rio. ICAO president Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez pointed out the flights showed that sustainable biofuels made from nonfood crops such as camelina or jatropha, were now a reality.
A declaration by the international Air Transport Action Group, signed by the heads of associations representing the world’s airports, airlines, air navigation services and aircraft manufacturers, was presented to the conference calling on governments to support efforts to manufacture sustainable biofuels in sufficient quantity to make them an affordable substitute for those made from oil, and to carry out improvements to infrastructure that could reduce flying time.
Airlines received approval to fly on biofuels last year. Until then, only experimental flights using some biofuels in addition to oil-based jet fuel had been allowed.
Emirates to the rescue
We have, sadly, lost the direct service by Spanish airline Iberia between Joburg and Madrid. It is one of the airlines that have withdrawn from SA as a result of the difficulties the industry has been facing in the past two years.
But Emirates, which flies to Cape Town twice a day, and is constantly adding new routes as it takes delivery of new aircraft, will offer connecting flights to Barcelona – one of the most popular destinations in Spain – from its home airport of Dubai from next week. It will follow this up the week after next by starting a new service from Dubai to Lisbon in Portugal.
BA adds new flights
Visitors to London have been surprised to see a sign on the banks of the Thames saying “Emirates Airline”. The airline has not, however, found a way to offer a service from there. It has introduced a new attraction for visitors and Londoners – a chairlift, about two kilometres long, across the river. A handy way to keep its name at the top of tourists’ minds and associate it with fun on holiday.
Meanwhile British Airways, which really does fly from the centre of London – from London City Airport in the Docklands – has launched a series of six new flights to holiday destinations from there. They are to Mahon on the island of Menorca, Angers in the Loire Valley, Quimper in Brittany, Venice, the Isle of Man and Aberdeen. - Weekend Argus