Air Mauritius showing signs of recovery
Audrey D’Angelo shares some of the late stair line news
AIR Mauritius, under previous top management, made the same mistake as SAA a few years earlier – it tied itself i nto a hedging contract intended to protect it from the soaring price of aviation fuel, only to find itself paying more than the going rate when the price dropped.
Then, like all other airlines, it found its passenger numbers falling as the recession affected international travel. Like SAA earlier, it had to be bailed out by its government, which is the major shareholder in the airline.
Now it’s carrying good passenger loads again but, as is the case with many other international airlines, this is partly due to the lower fares it is offering. So this is definitely the time to fly with it before they go up as demand continues to improve.
Theo James, its general sales agent in Cape Town ,and Samantha Marshall, its sales executive in Johannesburg, tell me bookings for next month look very promising with passenger loads of 90%. However, it is offering a Valentine’s fare to the island of R2 999 for travel between January 18 and February 14, with booking already opened.
Indirect travel to popular destinations is becoming more commonplace and Air Mauritius is offering bargain flights by way of its home airport on the island to Kuala Lumpur, London and the Indian cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai for R5 000, inclusive of taxes for travel during November. This fare is available only from Johannesburg, unfortunately, and not from Cape Town or Durban.
German airline Lufthansa has a special fare of R4 980, inclusive of taxes and surcharges, from Cape Town to London by way of Frankfurt.
It is slightly cheaper from Johannesburg, at R4 880. Tickets can be bought at these prices from now until November 30 for outbound flights between December 21 and 31, and travel must be completed by January 31.
Air France has taken delivery of the first of the 12 Airbus A380s it has ordered, beating Lufthansa to become the first European airline to operate the giant plane. The Ai r France A380 is configured to carry 538 passengers in three classes, and its scheduled maiden flight will be bet ween Paris and New Yor k on November 20. This is the 20th Airbus A380 to be delivered. Singapore Airlines is already using 10, Emirates five and Qantas four. Air France is expected to use one on its route between Johannesburg and Paris next year.
According to a survey carried out by Travelstart, a global on-line booking service, 53% of South Africans are more concerned about the risk of losing their baggage than of catching swine flu on international flights.
This is not altogether surprising because for years lost or damaged baggage has been commonplace for passengers passing through South Africa’s OR Tambo Airport, in particular.
Airport Company South Africa has been doing its best to reduce this problem and told a parliamentary committee this month that it has managed to reduce the number of bags that had been pilfered at OR Tambo to 18 a day from an earlier 30. It is aiming at getting this down to eight a day by the start of the Soccer World Cup tournament in June next year.
Apart from actually losing valuable items it is even more commonplace to find your case has been damaged. I never put anything anyone would be likely to steal in checked-in luggage but, for years, I found the locks on my case had been broken almost every time I went overseas – even though I did not lock it.
Presumably t he baggage handlers, with limited time to search the bags, don’t bother to check before breaking t hem. This, rather than extra charges levied on excess baggage, may be why another survey by SITA, the specialist provider of IT solutions for the aviation industry, has found that the proportion of passengers checking in baggage has dropped, worldwide, from 82% in 2007 to 75.7% this year.