New budget airline to take off

By Norma Wildenboer - Staff Reporter Time of article published Aug 25, 2015

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Kimberley - A former South African Airways (SAA) CEO has launched a new budget airline that will offer three daily flights between Kimberley and Johannesburg from next week.

Fly Blue Crane will launch its inaugural flights from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg to Kimberley on September 1.

Bookings for flights between Johannesburg and Kimberley, as well as Bloemfontein and Nelspruit open on Tuesday.

During its launch phase, Fly Blue Crane will operate modern and fuel-efficient 50-seater Embraer Regional Jet 145 (ERJ) aircraft in a single class configuration. The use of a single aircraft type will allow for quick aircraft turnaround times and maximum crew synergies.

During its initial launch phase, Fly Blue Crane will serve Kimberley, from its OR Tambo hub, three times a day during the week, once on Saturdays, and twice on Sundays.

Fly Blue Crane’s airfares for trips between Johannesburg and Kimberley will start at R849 one-way, inclusive of all taxes.

Fly Blue Crane is backed by Pretoria-based aviation consultancy, Blue Crane Aviation. Directors of Blue Crane include former South African Airways chief executive officer, Siza Mzimela (holding a 70 percent stake in the airline), Commercial GM, Theunis Potgieter (20 percent stake), and former SAA Head of Revenue Planning, Jerome Simelane (10 percent stake).

Innovator

The chief operating officer of Fly Blue Crane, Theunis Potgieter, said on Monday the airline was poised to become an African aviation innovator by responding to market needs and implementing invaluable insights from global travellers, who have revealed that customer value is not based on low pricing alone but also in areas such as consistency, frequency, professionalism and reliability, as well as softer touch-points which include complimentary quality meals and the level of attention to detail paid to customers’ special needs when flying.

“Fly Blue Crane’s customers can look forward to such a fresh approach to air travel, which blends the best of both worlds without compromising on premium service,” he said.

Fly Blue Crane CEO, Siza Mzimela, added that the airline anticipated, and was positioned to deliver on what customers wanted: the enhanced convenience of frequent flights through high on-time performance, commitment to consistent service excellence, advanced online technologies that will make the booking and travel process fuss-free and highly competitive fares.

“By using what we have learned over the years about international airline best practice, we have also created a cost structure which allows us to offer competitive fares without cutting any corners on quality, safety and reliability,” explained GM Commercial, Jerome Simelane.

“We aim to make our mark serving the increasingly commercially significant provincial and regional capitals. Our aim in the coming years is to make air travel an altogether better and more rewarding experience in Southern Africa,” Mzimela said.

Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nocci) CEO, Sharon Steyn, on Monday welcomed the launch and said that competition between Fly Blue Crane and the two other airlines servicing Kimberley, SA Airlink and SA Express, could lead to lower prices for travellers.

“A new airline is just what the people of Kimberley need. If they could now get their departure and arrival times right and stay competitive with their fares, Fly Blue Crane could be spot-on,” Steyn said.

She added that there was a huge market for flights from Kimberley arriving in Johannesburg before the start of business and departing again from Johannesburg after office hours.

Fly Blue Crane will use the International Air Transport Association (IATA) code 7B. Its website www.flybluecrane.com will open for bookings at 7pm on Tuesday night.

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