Air Mau­ri­tius show­ing signs of re­cov­ery

Au­drey D’An­gelo shares some of the late stair line news

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY - Au­drey.D’An­gelo@inl.co.za

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.

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