New low cost carrier ready to reward early-bird bookings

2014-09-19 09:27
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(Selene Brophy)

Cape Town - Just over a year after being grounded by the Pretoria High Court, new domestic low cost carrier FlySafair is ready to take to local skies on 16 October.

FlySafair CEO Dave Andrews says its four launch domestic routes have a pricing model that will reward those who book early and the low prices are not just for the opening of the airline.

The airline is currently selling tickets via its website from Cape Town to Johannesburg at R499 and Cape Town to Port Elizabeth or Cape Town to George from R399 per ticket.

Tickets for the peak December holiday period are already at 85% capacity, according Andrews, as online bookings opened in July. Direct tickets sales will open at the relevant airports in the next  week.

While capacity and demand on routes will determine the number of tickets available at these low prices, inventory, at these low rates, are in the thousands according to the airline’s CFO Elmar Conradie.

Conradie says each and every flight has this pricing rate available and will continue to have it for the foreseeable future.

So after a bout of domestic airlines starting and closing within South Africa, how exactly does FlySafair plan to stay afloat as well as generate any profit? 

With market share of about 8 to 12% up for grabs following the closures of the likes of 1time, Conradie and Andrews envisage the new low cost commercial airline claiming its stake over the next five years or so.

The airline is in the fortunate position of having the backing of Safair Operations (Pty) Limited, an established company that has the necessary air-side infrastructure already setup - already in operation for the past 49 years.

“For the year to date, we’ve already serviced 66 000 passengers and transported 22 tons of goods through its specialist relief operations and back-up services for various local airlines, ” said Conradie.

The airline plans to maximise efficiency through its main operating cost - its planes and staff, which will be based in Cape Town – making it possible for its crew to fly the maximum amount of hours per day. Currently the overall staff compliment has been increased from 251 to 331.

FlySafair’s pricing model is also in line with that of global low cost carriers in that passengers can expect to pay for ancillary services such as checked bags at R150, on board food services, Premium pre-seating at R100 and economy pre-seating at R40. Passengers are able to check-in an additional bag for R250. Ticket changes or cancellation fees will also be charged a standard penalty fee.

The airline has plans to expand its customer-centric services with a Travel Insurance product set to launch shortly and it also recently announced its partnership with First Car Rental, which allows passengers to make a combined flights and car rental booking. 

With a commitment to providing the most competitive and affordable prices, FlySafair’s entry into South Africa’s domestic market will certainly benefit the consumer by increasing the number of cheap flight tickets available, which will drive industry prices down in general. 

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