Mango to take de­liv­ery of the first of two new lighter Boe­ings

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - TRAVEL 2013 - AU­DREY D’AN­GELO

SAA’S low cost di­vi­sion, Mango, will take de­liv­ery of the first of two more Boe­ings next month. The air­line is also in­ves­ti­gat­ing new do­mes­tic and re­gional routes in ad­di­tion to in­creas­ing the num­ber of flights on the Golden Tri­an­gle be­tween Cape Town, Jo­han­nes­burg and Dur­ban, help­ing to ease a short­age since 1Time stopped fly­ing in De­cem­ber. It has ap­plied to start sched­uled ser­vices to two des­ti­na­tions in East Africa.

It flies to its first des­ti­na­tion out­side South Africa – Zanz­ibar – to which it op­er­ates char­ter flights for a travel com­pany.

It plans to set up a per­ma­nent base at Dur­ban Air­port later this year which will en­able it to in­crease its ser­vices from there.

The seats in its new Boe­ings will be lighter, in sup­port of its cam­paign to re­duce the to­tal weight of its air­craft, re­sult­ing in a re­duc­tion of CO2 emis­sions. It has al­ready re­duced the weight of its en­tire fleet by 270kg per air­craft and will achieve fur­ther sav­ings by in­stalling the new lighter seats.

Code­shar­ing

SAA has fi­nally given de­tails of the ad­di­tional des­ti­na­tions to which it can sell tick­ets through its code­shar­ing ar­range­ments with Mid­dle Eastern air­line Ei­ti­had and, to my re­lief, none of them are in Europe.

Nico Bezuiden­hout, when act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive of SAA, gave me an as­sur­ance that SAA would not with­draw from any of its few re­main­ing Euro­pean des­ti­na­tions by serv­ing them through a code­share ar­range­ment un­der which its pas­sen­gers would be car­ried by an­other air­line while SAA re­ceived a por­tion of the fare.

The code­share des­ti­na­tions for which it has al­ready re­ceived reg­u­la­tory ap­proval are Bahrain, Kuwait, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur to which Eti­had will carry South African pas­sen­gers from Jo­han­nes­burg. It does not fly from Cape Town. We can also fly to Bangkok di­rectly from Joburg with Thai Air­ways.

Three other des­ti­na­tions for which reg­u­la­tory ap­proval is pend­ing are Shang­hai, Sin­ga­pore and Jed­dah.

Capetonians are un­likely to take ad­van­tage of the code­share flights to Sin­ga­pore, un­less they are anx­ious to earn points on SAA’s fre­quent flyer pro­gramme, be­cause Sin­ga­pore Air­lines flies from Cape Town In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

In re­turn, SAA will carry Eti­had pas­sen­gers to Cape Town, Dur­ban, Port El­iz­a­beth and East Lon­don. It is wait­ing for reg­u­la­tory ap­proval to add Liv­ing­stone, Lusaka, Ndola, Harare and Vic­to­ria Falls to the list.

Kevin Knight, Eti­had’s chief strat­egy and plan­ning of­fi­cer, ex­plained that the code­share ar­range­ments were sought by his air­line to meet grow­ing de­mand for busi­ness and leisure travel to African des­ti­na­tions. He said busi­ness travel be­tween the Mid­dle East and ma­jor emerg­ing mar­kets in Africa, Asia, In­dia and Aus­tralia was grow­ing.

A threat­ened strike against SAA by the ground and cabin staff be­long­ing to the SA Trans­port and Al­lied Work­ers Union and the United As­so­ci­a­tion of SA has been called off af­ter the air­line uni­lat­er­ally an­nounced that it was grant­ing a pay rise of 6.23 per­cent, ef­fec­tive from April 1. This is higher than its orig­i­nal of­fer of 6.02 per­cent but be­low the unions’ de­mand for 7.5 per­cent on to­tal re­mu­ner­a­tion in­clud­ing spe­cial al­lowances. The rise of­fered by SAA ex­cludes al­lowances.

Iron­i­cally, mem­bers of a new union, the National Trans­port Move­ment, which SAA ini­tially re­fused to recog­nise, would not have joined the strike and, with some staff who do not be­long to any union, would have en­abled some flights to con­tinue.

It’s a re­lief for pas­sen­gers that they will not be in­con­ve­nienced. But, un­for­tu­nately, the strike threat will have done some dam­age be­cause, know­ing that it was a pos­si­bil­ity, some pas­sen­gers must have switched to other air­lines dur­ing the past week, or can­celled or post­poned flights.

The high ar­rival and de­par­tures tax charged by the Bri­tish govern­ment has caused some canny pas­sen­gers to fly to con­ti­nen­tal air­ports and en­ter Bri­tain by train or ferry, avoid­ing the charge. Now it has been agreed that Ger­man trains can also travel through the un­der­sea chan­nel tun­nel – but start­ing only next year.

GO­ING GREEN: to re­duce its car­bon foot­print, Mango will be in­stalling lighter seats in its air­craft to re­duce plane weight and CO emis­sions.

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