Good news in the air for grow­ing re­gion

Zululand Observer - Monday - - ZO OPINION -

Re­ports that a third air­line car­rier is about to launch ad­di­tional reg­u­lar flights be­tween Richards Bay and Johannesburg is great news for the area.

Com­muters be­tween the

City of uMh­lathuze, and in­deed the greater re­gion, now have seven op­tions of daily flights and a choice of car­ri­ers.

While the ma­jor­ity of pas­sen­gers are busi­ness peo­ple, a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber are pri­vate cus­tomers and tourists, all of whom wel­come the ex­tra op­tions.

What would be even more ap­pre­ci­ated, how­ever, would be to see some com­pe­ti­tion in the form of a ‘price war’.

Richards Bay flights have al­ways been ex­tremely ex­pen­sive, pos­si­bly go­ing back to the early days of the ‘boom’ that saw the port be­ing built and ma­jor in­dus­tries, fac­to­ries, con­struc­tion com­pa­nies and sup­port­ing busi­nesses flood­ing the town.

With seem­ing end­less re­sources, and as a cap­tive mar­ket, these cor­po­rates were quite happy to pay the go­ing rate for the con­ve­nience of fly­ing di­rect to Richards Bay to do busi­ness.

The poorer pay­ing pub­lic sim­ply had to fork out for tick­ets at the same price – and many still found it much cheaper to drive all the way to Dur­ban for flight prices that, even with the petrol and toll fares added, were sig­nif­i­cantly lower than fly­ing from Richards Bay.

One trusts there won’t be some sort of col­lab­o­ra­tion or un­spo­ken agree­ment be­tween the three car­ri­ers and that com­muters can look for­ward to bet­ter rates in fu­ture as the nor­mal com­pe­ti­tion as­pect kicks in.

On the hori­zon, of course, is the plan for a ma­jor new air­port, based on en­vis­aged fu­ture de­mand.

The re­newed fo­cus on Richards Bay’s po­ten­tial for growth and in­vest­ment was high­lighted last week by a re­port pub­lished by Alexan­der Forbes, which named the city as the num­ber one lo­ca­tion in terms of un­lock­ing de­vel­op­ment po­ten­tial for the coun­try’s econ­omy.

The re­port showed many ad­van­tages over other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to a num­ber of com­par­a­tive cri­te­ria.

The ‘lo­ca­tion at­trac­tive­ness in­dex’ was the very rea­son the deep wa­ter port city grew as it did.

And there’s no rea­son why it can’t con­tinue on the up­ward eco­nomic path.

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