Hope for cheaper air­fare on the hori­zon with launch of air­line

Air­line­news

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

THE GOOD news this week is that FlySafair, a new low-cost air­line started by long-es­tab­lished char­ter air­line Safair, has met the re­quire­ment for a do­mes­tic air­line, that it is 75 per­centowned by South Africans res­i­dent in this coun­try. FlySafair will be able to go ahead with plans to fly the Cape Town to Joburg route with lower fares than those be­ing charged at present.

The bad news is that, be­cause its own­er­ship has changed, it has to reap­ply for an op­er­at­ing li­cence. This may take some time and FlySafair may not come into ser­vice in time for Christ­mas.

Safair an­nounced this week that it had launched an em­ployee share scheme – claimed to be the largest of any air­line in this coun­try – which, to­gether with Safair chief ex­ec­u­tive Dave An­drew and fi­nan­cial di­rec­tor El­mar Con­radie, who are both South Africans liv­ing in this coun­try, will con­trol FlySafair.

An ear­lier at­tempt to start the new air­line was frus­trated when an in­ter­dict was ob­tained against it in the Gaut­eng High Court on the grounds that al­though one of the three con­trol­ling di­rec­tors, Hugh Flynn, was born and brought up in South Africa, he has dual Ir­ish and South African na­tion­al­ity and, de­spite the fact that he owns prop­erty in this coun­try, lives and works in Ire­land. His share­hold­ing in FlySafair has now been dis­trib­uted among the mem­bers em­ployee-share scheme.

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Air fares on the Cape Town to Joburg route have rock­eted since low- cost air­line 1Time went out of busi­ness in De­cem­ber last year.

The route is flown only by Co­mair, SAA and their low-cost di­vi­sions, ku­l­ula.com and Mango.

1Time’s orig­i­nal founders, Glenn Orsmond and Rod­ney James have started a new air­line, Sky­wise, with the in­ten­tion of fly­ing the Cape Town to Joburg route.

They have al­ready leased new gen­er­a­tion air­craft, but have waited a long time for an op­er­at­ing li­cence to be is­sued.

Cape Town’s tourism in­dus­try has been wor­ried by SAA’s de­ci­sion to with­drew its ser­vice be­tween Buenos Aires and Joburg on the grounds that it is los­ing R50 mil­lion a year. Tourism from Ar­gentina has been grow­ing steadily for the past four years.

Alan Winde, the Western Cape MEC for Fi­nance, Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment and Tourism, has joined Ar­gen­tinian tour op­er­a­tors in ap­peal­ing to SAA to re­con­sider its de­ci­sion.

But Wally Gaynor, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Club Travel, says there is no need to worry.

He says SAA’s losses on the route are not only be­cause of ris­ing costs and the weak rand but be­cause many South Amer­i­can tourists are al­ready sav­ing money by com­ing to this coun­try with Mid­dle East­ern air­lines Emi­rates, Eti­had and Qatar Air­ways.

The cheaper fares, com­bined with the com­fort of the mod­ern air­craft, com­pen­sate for the longer trav­el­ling time.

He says some Ar­gen­tini­ans also come here on SAA’s flights from Brazil’s com­mer­cial cap­i­tal. Sao Paulo.

In ad­di­tion to this, there are ru­mours that Aeroli­nas Ar­genti­nas and LAM are con­sid­er­ing fly­ing here and that a char­ter ser­vice may be started for the sum­mer sea­son.

Gaynor says many South Africans also fly to Ar­gentina and neigh­bour­ing Chile for busi­ness as well as leisure.

Sun In­ter­na­tional, which has de­vel­oped a ho­tel and casino in San­ti­ago, Chile, is one of a num­ber of South African com­pa­nies with in­vest­ments in South Amer­ica.

Club Travel, which cel­e­brates its 10th an­niver­sary this year, has been judged the best travel agency in Africa in the World Travel Awards.

COST CUT­TER: 1Time founders Glen Orsmond and Rod­ney James are hop­ing to give other low-cost air­lines like ku­l­ula and Mango a run for their money with their new air­line Sky­wise.

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