Airline’s bold move

2013-09-25 00:00

SOUTH Africa’s latest low-cost airline, FlySafair, has started selling tickets despite a competitor threatening court action against it.

The airline started selling tickets online on Monday, with a one-way ticket from Johannesburg to Cape Town costing R798. And the airline has not ruled out other destinations, such as Durban, in the future.

Chief financial officer Elmar Conradie said yesterday the airline would consider other routes in South Africa “as soon as we get settled down on theJohannesburg to Cape Town route”.

Conradie said what differentiated the airline from other low-cost airlines in South Africa that had failed recently was that it was not a start-up company.

Safair Operations had been involved in the aviation industry for 48 years and it had other businesses to support the low-cost carrier if required.

“Having been involved in the aviation industry for almost half a century, and having operated in some of the world’s most demanding environments tackling some of the toughest freight and passenger assignments, we’re more than capable and ready to manage our low-cost airline,” said executive head Dave Andrew.

Ten flights per day are planned between the two cities when it starts operating on October 17.

Competitor Comair and other parties have indicated they want to secure an interdict against FlySafair, apparently because it does not meet all the required regulations to operate.

FlySafair, however, said it was confident its flights would go ahead. The airline had been granted a licence after the aviation licensing authorities had considered all the objections against it, Conradie said.

Comair, which is the only surviving private operator of scheduled flights in South Africa, recently reported a big increase in earnings.

It indicated to shareholders that it was prepared to slug it out in court to ensure a level playing field in the South African aviation industry.

According to Rob Baker, co-owner of South Africa Travel Online, the issue at hand is similar to that which Fastjet ran into when they tried to start up domestic flights in South Africa earlier this year — legislation requires a 75% South African ownership in order to operate domestic scheduled flights.

When FlySafair applied for a licence to operate flights in SA, Comair cried foul, saying FlySafair does not meet the 75% local ownership requirement.

Comair drew attention to inconsistencies in FlySafair’s application to the Air Services Licensing Council, with some documents mentioning that 100% of FlySafair was owned by ASL.

FlySafair clarified that it is owned by Safair Operations (Pty) Limited. Safair Operations in turn is own by Hugh Flynn (25%), Elmar Conradie (25%), Dave Andrew (25%) and the remainder by Safair Aviation Ireland Limited (which in turn is owned by the Irish ASL Aviation Group).

Comair further alleged that Hugh Flynn is based in Ireland and so he doesn’t qualify for purposes of meeting the 75% requirement. At the start of September, SA’s Air Services Licensing Authority dismissed objections to FlySafair’s licence. — Sapa-Fin24.

Dave Andrew

Having been involved in the aviation industry for almost half a century, and having operated in some of the world’s most demanding environments tackling some of the toughest freight and passenger assignments, we’re more than capable and ready to manage our low-cost airline.

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