Cape Town - FlySafair caused an online booking frenzy on Tuesday with the release of 30 000 tickets at R1 each, including airport taxes, for all of its flight routes.
UPDATE: FlySafair R1 birthday sale SOLD OUT
However hours with in news of the its first birthday sale going live, the bookings were only available via its mobile platform as the main website had crashed. The mobile booking option soon followed suit and both sites remain down, with the following error message being displayed.
FlySafair spokesperson Kirby Gordon told Traveller24, its technical partner Radix was attending to the issue and that initially the airline had doubled its server capacity in anticipation of the sale.
“Radix is currently adding more server capacity to resolve the issue and we are having to throttle access to the site, “Gordon said.
Gordon confirmed that just over 5 000 of the available 30 000 inventory had been used at the time of publishing and in light of this FlySafair would be looking at extending the sale which is supposed to end at midnight on Tuesday 25 August.
"We want to allow travellers to get the full benefit of the sale. We are attending to the issue and all we can ask is that people just keep trying to access the site.”
Meanwhile, low cost carrier competitor Mango has issued a statement saying it deemed the FlySafair R1 sale as “an imitation of its first domestic sale in 2007 as well as the airline’s recent R 1 sale when launching its Windows mobile app“.
While the entry of new low cost competitors such as FlySafair has seen the cost of domestic travel being pushed down, Kaiser pointed out the difference between the two campaigns was that FlySafair was including its airport taxes in its R 1 special whereas Mango has never sold inventory in the negative commercial space.
“This effectively means that the new airline will lose more than R150 per ticket sold during the special, incurring losses. Multiply this by the alleged 30 000 tickets available and the losses could be substantial. This reminds of the commercially unsustainable fares offered by the competing airline,” Kaiser said.
When asked if FlySafair was running the sale inventory at a loss, Gordon confirmed the airline was “absorbing the taxes” but chose to do so as "a marketing objective to get its name out there".
“We weighed it against the cost of TV airtime and radio airtime and the alternative is to get people to experience our product which we thought to be a better investment of R20 000 as opposed to a 30 second advert," said Gordon.
“The best form of marketing is word of mouth and opting to have a plane full of passengers experiencing our service and talking about it was a no-brainer."
Previous analysis by TravelStart has warned travellers not to expect the overall air ticket price drop to continue for much longer as the decrease in fare prices on several local routes could be detrimental to the growth of the commercial aviation industry.
Consumers have been warned to prepare for increases as the market seeks stability.
“Sale extravaganzas and consumer delight have little long-term benefit for airlines,” said Russell Jarvis, Head of Communications for Travelstart.
"As the main cast continue to out-seat-sale each other in a bid to win consumers over, industry experts have predicted a shift away from uncharacteristically low fares.
“Prices are likely to bottom-out as soon as the airline industry responds in favour of market stability and long term, healthy competition,” Jarvis said.