File picture: Maxim Shemetov
File picture: Maxim Shemetov

New bird on the airstrip

By Dineo Faku Time of article published Oct 4, 2016

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Johannesburg - New kid on the block, Fly Blue Crane, is scheduled to launch its first daily flight between Johannesburg and Mthatha on Wednesday.

Fly Blue Crane which was launched a year ago by former SAA chief executive Siza Mzimela with former-SAA colleagues Jerome Simelane and Theunis Potgieter is hoping to take advantage of growing demand for flight from Johannesburg to sleepy Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.

“The Johannesburg to Mthatha market has been growing at a consistent, positive rate over the last few years. Both travellers and the Eastern Cape government have been looking for an alternative carrier to stimulate market growth through the provision of additional flights at affordable fares,” Potgieter said.

The flight is expected to compete with rival SA Airlink, an associate of South African Airways (SAA).

Fly Blue Crane was planning to launch fares from as low as R799, which would undercut the competition by more than 200 percent.

Transport economist, Joachim Vermooten, said yesterday (Tuesday) that the introduction of the flight meant there would be more choices for customers.

“I think that competition will be stimulated through the flights, “ he said.

Vermooten said the key Fly Blue Crane’s future was if the company offered a good and reliable service.

Fly Blue Crane already flies to Kimberley and Bloemfontein, as well as between Kimberley and Cape Town, and between Bloemfontein and Cape Town.

Potgieter said the company had received a very positive response from travellers with strong forward bookings.

“Our next expansion phase for Fly Blue Crane will focus on the regional market, with flights to Maputo in Mozambique planned to start in the next few months.

“We have applied for route rights on a number of other regional markets and will implement services to these new destinations when the rights become available.”

The new flight to Mthatha comes as the town’s airport is under new management.

Bongani Maseko, the chief executive of Airports Company SA (Acsa) said last month the state owned company had won a management contract to run Mthatha Airport, which it did not own.

Acsa is in talks with other airports, including Wonderboom in Pretoria, about providing management services.

BUSINESS REPORT

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