Cape Town - Comair passengers left scrambling for flights were at their wits’ end this weekend when the airline was suspended by the South African Civil Aviation Authority from operating their Kulula and British Airways planes due to safety concerns.
Before the suspension, Comair operated 40% of the domestic seating capacity, meaning that almost four in every 10 passengers were affected.
As a way of circumventing the shortage of domestic flights, low cost carrier FlySafair added an additional 10 flights to its schedule.
But soon social media, specifically Twitter, was bombarded with FlySafair hashtag, with many accusing the carrier of taking advantage of the current situation by hiking airfare prices.
FlySafair is literally showing us what lack of competition does to prices.— KayD 🤡 vol. 220.127.116.11 (@BrotherKD) March 14, 2022
Now imagine what competition would do to Eskom prices.
Speaking to IOL Travel about the price increase, FlySafair’s chief marketing officer Kirby Gordon said a number of factors contributed to this.
“We’re all aware of how the oil price has shot up recently due to international developments, and this obviously has a massive impact on the price of jet fuel, which accounts for almost 40% of our cost base,” said Gordon.
FlySafair, uses a system called "demand based pricing". What this means is that the first seats on a flight, sell at the very lowest price, usually at a loss to the airline. As the seats start to sell out, they become incrementally more expensive. -AJ— FlySafair (@FlySafair) March 15, 2022
“Airlines, especially low-cost carriers who operate on high-frequency routes like us, are generally considered to be what economists call price-takers, which means that the fares we can achieve are set by market forces of supply and demand.
“It’s not really within our power to simply pass costs on to consumers, but the viability threshold of our business does rise and so there comes a price point where it’s no longer economically viable,” he added.
Basically, it all comes down to supply and demand.
“When it's a high season period, the top price remains the same - that's the one that will sell because it’s the last seat on the aircraft,” explained Gordon.
But, unfortunately, the reality is that Comair’s suspension is not good for the market.
“It persuades people away from flying with concern about safety being an issue, never mind the impact this has on every party involved. The loss of revenue has a ripple on the rest of the industry,” he concluded.