Airlink logo FILE PHOTO
Airlink logo FILE PHOTO
JOHANNESBURG - Airlink and Safair, two independent South African aviation groups, have said that they would today apply to the Competition Commission for approval to unite under the common umbrella of the Airlink group of companies.

The proposal sees the Airlink and low-cost FlySafair airlines and Safair’s other businesses, including humanitarian aid flights, continuing to operate separately under their unique brands.

In a joint statement, the airlines said they would retain their respective products, aircraft fleets, management and leadership teams, and employees secured with no job losses because of the consolidation.

Airlink chief executive and managing director Rodger Foster said Airlink’s acquisition of Safair, which is financially robust and profitable, made good business sense. “It presents opportunities to reduce our combined costs, position ourselves for growth, and increasing connectivity and choice while making air travel accessible and affordable for our customers across Southern Africa,” Foster said. 

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“Our combined networks will enable us to connect 37 destinations in nine Southern African and Indian Ocean countries and St Helena. This will stimulate and enable trade, tourism, economic growth and social development in those markets we serve.”

In addition, the proposed new ownership structure will see Airlink continue to meet - and in future exceed - South Africa’s Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment targets.

The companies said the Safair purchase will not affect Airlink’s existing SAA franchise partnership, which continues to deliver traffic and business to SAA and Airlink, while their customers benefit from the value, convenience and connectivity the arrangement provides.

Elmar Conradie, who will remain as Safair chief executive, said: “Coming under a single umbrella will create economies of scale that will enable both airlines to share costs, optimise assets and remove systems duplication. This will position the new Airlink Group for future growth,” Conradie said.

If the deal goes through, Safair shareholder ASL Aviation Holdings will become a minority shareholder of the Airlink Group of companies. ASL Aviation Holdings is a global aviation group with six European and two Asian airlines in addition to its South African interests.

More details will be provided when the Competition Commission has made its determination.