Excitement over Mango flights

2012-12-09 10:00

The competitive air travel space became even more contested when budget airline Mango landed in Port Elizabeth for the first time.

The airline’s arrival on Wednesday was met with huge excitement from both the travelling public and the business sector in the hope that Mango will offer competitive prices.

It fills the much-felt gap left by the demise of 1Time, which is facing liquidation.

The development is likely to reignite talk within the aviation industry and political circles that government’s bailout of SAA, at a time when independent airlines were operating in a tough market, gave SAA and Mango an unfair advantage.

Government denied that the R5 billion it gave SAA was a bailout, arguing that it was merely a guarantee allowing SAA to secure funding from commercial lending institutions.

Mango has also repeatedly denied that it received any financial assistance from its mother company. It has attributed its relative success to running a tight ship and flying fuel-efficient planes.

SAA announced a R1.3 billion loss for the past financial year.

Other carriers flying the same route include Mango’s stablemate SAA, British Airways/Comair and Kulula.com.

A spokesperson for the airline said a few days after the start of selling tickets for the Joburg/Port Elizabeth route, the flight was fully booked and, for the next few weeks, bookings are already at 80%.

The airline’s aircraft carry 186 passengers, and will also be flying between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. They also cover numerous other routes countrywide.

A spokesperson for the airline said Mango will not only make flying affordable for Port Elizabeth residents, but also provide more choice.

Tourism experts are particularly happy that this may increase the number of visitors to the region and stimulate domestic tourism.

According to the latest Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism annual report released this week, the industry made R4 billion collectively last year.

- City Press

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