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Airlines move to attract more passengers as SAA returns to the skies

Low demand and fewer airlines meant higher prices for South African air passengers in recent times. Now with the return of SAA, relief is in sight.
Airlines move to attract more passengers as SAA returns to the skies

The return of the national carrier is certain to bring more competitive pricing after 16 months of high prices in the airline industry. These lower costs and fewer lockdown restrictions, coupled with SA’s impending removal from the UK’s red list, mean more passengers, which could also have a positive impact on the embattled tourism industry.

Initially, the airline will focus on the busy route between Cape Town and Johannesburg, which is the busiest route in Africa. The airline also offers flights to African destinations like the DRC, Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Ghana.

A new dawn for SAA

SAA’s board chairman, John Lamola, vows that SAA has turned over a new leaf after its previous struggles and is now more streamlined and better able to offer its customers cheaper prices.

Lamola adds that having SAA’s national colours back in action also contributes to national pride after a difficult spell. With fewer staff and a fleet of just eight aircraft, the airline has slashed its operating costs considerably, and is now able to offer some of the most competitive pricing.

Currently, SAA offers the cheapest flights on its Johannesburg to Cape Town route, leaving the pricing ball firmly in the courts of its competitors.

While bookings will determine the effectiveness of this long process, the airline is already receiving enquires from other African airports wondering when they’ll be added to the flight roster.

In response to SAA’s return, several domestic carriers have come up with ways to stay competitive as the industry re-awakens.

What’s up in the realm of South African air travel

There haven’t been any major shifts in pricing yet, but you can compare current ticket prices on browser search engine such as SA Airlines, Direct Flights South Africa, and Travelstart.

Flysafair is branching out to include Mauritius in its offering, with the first flights heading out in December. These two weekly flights should impact air fares on this route, traditionally dominated by Air Mauritius and British Airways.

Already, passengers can shave at least R2,000 off the price of their ticket by booking with Flysafair instead of the other two operators.

What’s more, the airline has just released a flight subscription service to help travellers spend less when they take to the skies.

This service, called the FlyMore club caters to regular flyers, like commuters, villa owners, boarding school students, and business travellers. These passengers pay a fixed monthly fee for batches of flight assignments ranging from two to 10 flights per month.

In addition to fixed budget fares, the club has special offers as well as free flight incentives.

Comair was back with a bang in September with three convenient and affordable bundled packages offered via it’s brand. The current offering includes Fly Light which is a hop-on, hop-off option with low fares for travellers with carry-on baggage only.

Pack and Go includes one piece of checked luggage under 20kg and the Fully Loaded option offers Q-jump, two checked bags, and unlimited booking changes.

Meanwhile, newcomer Lyft has launched its premium package, offering an ‘all the bells and whistles’ option for travellers at just over R2 800 for a return ticket from Johannesburg to Cape Town.

Airlink has turned its attentions toward the north, reopening its route to Polokwane, and offering a competitively priced fare between Johannesburg and Luanda three times a week. Both these routes offer business travellers more options and serve to get these important commercial corridors flowing once again.

Airlink has also entered into a codeshare agreement with Emirates that offers inbound travellers from abroad access to over 40 domestic destinations and 12 African countries.

Flexible, affordable travels on the horizon

It’s been a while since we’ve seen such innovation amongst airlines on domestic flights in South Africa, especially in such a short time. There’s no doubt that these ongoing attempts among airlines to outmanoeuvre each other will bode well for both travellers and the broader tourism industry.


8 Oct 2021 13:42