FlySa­fair is bullish about its growth plans

SAA throt­tling back on its do­mes­tic net­work

Pretoria News - - FRONT PAGE - SIPHELELE DLUDLA [email protected]

FLYSA­FAIR is em­bark­ing on an ag­gres­sive ex­pan­sion pro­gramme and plans to add more air­craft to its fleet to meet grow­ing de­mand and ce­ment its place as the big­gest low-cost do­mes­tic air­line.

This as cash-strapped SAA, pre­vi­ously the coun­try’s largest do­mes­tic car­rier, last week an­nounced plans to re­duce its do­mes­tic net­work.

The state-owned car­rier is on an op­ti­mi­sa­tion drive to con­serve cash as it is buck­ling un­der liq­uid­ity chal­lenges.

FlySa­fair spokesper­son Kirby Gor­don, speak­ing to Busi­ness Re­port on Fri­day, said the air­line was bullish about its growth plans this year, par­tic­u­larly since the do­mes­tic mar­ket was up for grabs.

“We are plan­ning fur­ther growth and ex­pan­sion. Ac­tu­ally this week, we have a new air­craft ar­riv­ing to join our fleet, a Boe­ing 737-800, not brand new, but it will be a mo­ment be­fore it gets a South African reg­is­tra­tion,” Gor­don said.

“With those ex­pan­sion plans in mind, it is en­cour­ag­ing to know that there are op­por­tu­ni­ties. But to be hon­est, that plan was set in mo­tion a long time ago. We will con­tinue to grow and be bullish in the South African mar­ket.”

SAA was placed in busi­ness res­cue af­ter it hit ma­jor tur­bu­lence in De­cem­ber.

The air­line, which also op­er­ates low-cost sub­sidiary Mango, is put­ting some of its as­sets up for sale.

FlySa­fair has con­tacted SAA’s busi­ness res­cue prac­ti­tion­ers to con­vey its in­ter­est should any of SAA’s as­sets be put up for sale.

The air­line, a divi­sion of 55-yearold in­de­pen­dent avi­a­tion group Safair, has been grow­ing rapidly in South Africa since it was founded six years ago.

FlySa­fair has shown prof­its for the past three years de­spite de­clin­ing air­fares, the move­ments in oil prices, and the ex­change rate pre­sent­ing a chal­lenge.

The air­line op­er­ates 16 pas­sen­ger planes, 2 558 flights and has the ca­pac­ity to fly more than 3 mil­lion pas­sen­gers a year. It has grown its staff com­ple­ment from 180 em­ploy­ees in 2014 to 1 100 em­ploy­ees to­day.

The com­pany has ex­panded its fleet and added three more Boe­ing 737-800 by mid-2019 to in­crease the fre­quency on some of its routes.

“We are the big­gest do­mes­tic car­rier. In terms of seat ca­pac­ity, FlySa­fair op­er­ates 24 per­cent of any seats on any routes in South Africa,” Gor­don said.

“The fleet that we’ve got, we utilise fully and that is part of our model that you utilise every op­por­tu­nity, every avail­able fly­ing hour be­cause air­craft cost you money on the ground.”

HENK KRUGER African News Agency (ANA)

FLYSA­FAIR has shown prof­its for the past three years de­spite de­clin­ing air­fares, the move­ments in oil prices, and the ex­change rate pre­sent­ing a chal­lenge. |

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