Some fare bar­gains are still avail­able

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

AL­THOUGH there are signs that in­ter­na­tional passenger num­bers are beginning to rise, there are still some fare bar­gains avail­able.

Mid­dle East­ern air­line Eti­had, which now flies to Cape Town, is of­fer­ing spe­cial fares from both here and Jo­han­nes­burg. Tick­ets that can be booked from now un­til Novem­ber 30 are Lon­don from R4 895, Bangkok from R4 434 and Manch­ester, Is­tan­bul and Athens from R5 000 “in­clu­sive of all pre-payable taxes, sur­charges and levies.”

In view of the size of taxes nowa­days, this is an im­por­tant con­ces­sion but pre­sum­ably “pre­payable” does not in­clude the high de­par­ture taxes charged at some air­ports.

A new code­share agree­ment be­tween SAA and Air New Zealand wil l mean s mo o t h e r c o n n e c t i o n s be­tween the two air­lines. SAA pas­sen­gers on its daily flights from Jo­han­nes­burg to Perth will have a smooth trans­fer there to Air New Zealand’s flights to Auck­land and on to Welling­ton and Christchurch, and will be able to earn points on S A A’ s Vo y a g e r loy­alty pro­gramme for the en­tire jour­ney. SAA will have a share of the ticket money it is pay­ing for the New Zealand leg of the trip. Air New Zealand pas­sen­gers wil l c ode­share on SAA’s flights from Perth and its do­mes­tic flights on to Cape Town, Dur­ban, Port El­iz­a­beth and East Lon­don. There are likely to be a great many of them do­ing so dur­ing the soc­cer World Cup next June.

Ja­son Krause, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment man­ager at SAA, said there were more than 41 000 South Africans liv­ing in New Zealand, and 12 000 pas­sen­gers f rom New Zealand vis­ited South Africa last year. In the year to June, 23 000 South Africans flew to New Z e a l a n d – many t o s e e friends and fam­ily.

SAA has stepped up its flights to Perth in time for Christ­mas this year, eas­ing the usual short­age of seats on the route at that time.

But, be­cause it flies there only from Jo­han­nes­burg, most Capeto­ni­ans are likely to con­tinue fly­ing to Aus­tralia with Sin­ga­pore Air­lines or Malaysia Air­lines, both of which fly here and of­fer flights to sev­eral cities in Aus­tralia and New Zealand from their home air­ports.

Sin­ga­pore Air­lines of­fers flights to Syd­ney in its gi­ant Air­bus A380, and from March next year, Vi r gi n Aus­tralia will en­ter our mar­ket, of­fer­ing di­rect flights from Jo­han­nes­burg to Mel­bourne. Book­ings are al­ready open.

Mean­while, S AA h a s in­creased the num­ber of its flights to African des­ti­na­tions. Those be­tween Jo­han­nes­burg and Dar-esSalaam have in­creased from seven a week to nine, with t he t wo ad­diti onal f l i ghts on Satur­days and Sun­days. Those be­tween Jo­han­nes­burg and Windhoek have gone up from 14 a week to 20, with a new sched­ule aimed at bus i nes s t r a v e l l e r s . T he route is also flown by Air Namibia, whose flights con­tinue from Jo­han­nes­burg to Lusaka. SAA’s flights to Ac­cra, cap­i­tal of Ghana, have gone up from four a week to a daily ser­vice. Africa is still SAA’s most prof­itable mar­ket, de­spite fac­ing in­creased com­pe­ti­tion on some routes.

UK passenger de­par­ture tax

Less good news is that the UK has in­creased its passenger de­par­ture tax by about £10 to £60 de­spite re­quests by air­lines and its own tourism mar­ket­ing au­thor­ity, Visit Bri­tain, to re­duce it. The strength of the pound against the rand means that, al­though ex­change rates fluc­tu­ate, it is still a con­sid­er­able ex­tra ex­pense for South Africans in ad­di­tion to the cost of a visa.

Not sur­pris­ingly, even be­fore this in­crease the tax has led to a drop in tourism to the UK – some­thing that should be borne in mind if Air­ports Com­pany, South Africa, (Acsa) is al­lowed to in­crease its air­port charges by 133% to help pay the R15 bil­lion cost of im­prov­ing and en­larg­ing our air­ports in time for the soc­cer World Cup.Th­ese im­prove­ments in­clude R7bn for the new air­port in Dur­ban, which only two in­ter­na­tional air­lines – Emi­rates and Air Mau­ri­tius, say they will use.

Oth­ers, in­clud­ing SAA, say it would not be cost ef­fec­tive for their in­com­ing in­ter­na­tional flights to go on to Dur­ban from Jo­han­nes­burg be­cause safety reg­u­la­tions mean there would have to be a com­plete crew change for the short ad­di­tional flight.

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