FlySafair is bullish about its growth plans as SAA hits major turbulance
JOHANNESBURG – FlySafair is embarking on an aggressive expansion programme and plans to add more aircraft to its fleet to meet growing demand and cement its place as the biggest low-cost domestic airline.
This as cash-strapped SAA, previously the country’s largest domestic carrier, last week announced plans to reduce its domestic network.
The state-owned carrier is on an optimisation drive to conserve cash as it is buckling under liquidity challenges.
FlySafair spokesperson Kirby Gordon, speaking to Business Report on Friday, said the airline was bullish about its growth plans this year, particularly since the domestic market was up for grabs.
“We are planning further growth and expansion. Actually this week, we have a new aircraft arriving to join our fleet, a Boeing 737-800, not brand new, but it will be a moment before it gets a South African registration,” Gordon said.
“With those expansion plans in mind, it is encouraging to know that there are opportunities. But to be honest, that plan was set in motion a long time ago. We will continue to grow and be bullish in the South African market.”
SAA was placed in business rescue after it hit major turbulence in December.
The airline, which also operates low-cost subsidiary Mango, is putting some of its assets up for sale.
FlySafair has contacted SAA’s business rescue practitioners to convey its interest should any of SAA’s assets be put up for sale.
The airline, a division of 55-year-old independent aviation group Safair, has been growing rapidly in South Africa since it was founded six years ago.
FlySafair has shown profits for the past three years despite declining airfares, the movements in oil prices, and the exchange rate presenting a challenge.
The airline operates 16 passenger planes, 2 558 flights and has the capacity to fly more than 3 million passengers a year. It has grown its staff complement from 180 employees in 2014 to 1 100 employees today.
The company has expanded its fleet and added three more Boeing 737-800 by mid-2019 to increase the frequency on some of its routes.
“We are the biggest domestic carrier. In terms of seat capacity, FlySafair operates 24 percent of any seats on any routes in South Africa,” Gordon said.
“The fleet that we've got, we utilise fully and that is part of our model that you utilise every opportunity, every available flying hour because aircraft cost you money on the ground.”