Airlines hike ticket prices by over 200%
AIRLINES have ignored President Cyril Ramaphosa’s warning to industry not to cash in on the coronavirus crisis and hiked ticket prices by more than 200% in some cases.
Ahead of the 21-day national shutdown, airline ticket prices for domestic flights departing yesterday and today were sold at inflated prices.
At about noon yesterday, the cheapest Kulula economy ticket departing from OR Tambo International Airport to Cape Town international Airport was about R3 238 and the most expensive flight ticket was about R4 518.
Yesterday, the cheapest ticket for the same route was just R880.
The lowest FlySafair economy ticket departing from ORTambo International Airport to Cape Town international Airport yesterday was R1 599 and the most expensive was about R3 200.
Last year, around this time of the year, the cheapest flight for the airline was about R898, according to South Africa Travel Online which specialises in news, reviews and research on flights, cruises and car hire in South Africa.
Mango economy class tickets were also pricey at R1 649, and the most expensive was about R1 799 at about noon yesterday.
Last year, on the same day, the cheapest ticket going from Joburg to Cape Town was about R989.
Kulula.com spokesperson William Smook said the ticket prices were higher than usual because globally and locally the aviation industry was severely affected by the Covid-19 outbreak and that it had put a “huge strain” on the airline’s operations and customers.
“We are trying to be as flexible as possible and have adjusted some of our policies to accommodate our customers,” he said.
Smook added that the tickets for customers who booked tickets before the shutdown would be valid for 12-months regardless of fare rules and restrictions.
Mango spokesperson Sergio Santos-Van Vuuren said the reason why their tickets were higher was because the airline had reduced capacity.
“We are operating less flights than we did last year and therefore there’s less seat availability which does affect pricing on certain flights and routes. These changes were made even prior to the president’s announcement of the shutdown,” he said.
FlySafair spokesperson Kirby Gordon said the prices at which the airline can sell flights was purely determined by the market forces of supply and demand.
“When demand is low, and seats are plentiful, we sometimes can’t even give seats away. Conversely, when demand is high and the supply restricted, we can achieve higher prices,” he said.
Meanwhile, SA Airways, Airlink and FlySafair will suspend domestic flights from midnight today in line with the nationwide lockdown for 21 days aimed at preventing the spread of the Covid19 virus.
FlySafair customers, who have existing flights booked during the lock-up, could make penalty free changes to other dates, while those seeking refunds had to change their reservations to a flight voucher, with all eligible bookings to be assessed and converted to cash if requested.
SAA said there would be one free travel change for flights between Tuesday and tomorrow, and re-accommodation of customers for this purpose would be on a first-come-first-served basis.
Domestic and regional airline Airlink said it would suspend all operations after midnight tonight.