SAA sells prime Heathrow slot

2012-07-17 07:46

Cape Town — South African Airways (SAA) has sold one of its three exclusive daily landing-time slots at London’s Heathrow Airport, according to Beeld reports.

This announcement is due to SAA's cancellation of its direct Cape Town to London flight scheduled to take effect 15 August 2012.

According to the report, Heathrow slots are worth their time in gold at an estimate R300-million, and are so difficult to come by that SAA will more than likely not be able to acquire it again in the future. The last time Heathrow allocated a new morning slot was in 1997.

SAA commercial general manager Theunis Potgieter has confirmed the deal but the buyer or the selling price has not been made known.

According to Potgieter, SAA did try to rent it out since the times are not transferable between airlines and must either sold or leased out.

Preference was given to other African airlines but "unfortunately we were unsuccessful. The result was that SAA put the slot up for sale and an agreement was finally entered into.”

This SAA slot at 6:20am at the world’s busiest international airport, is especially valuable because of landing time which gives business travellers a full day to do business in London.

Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) CEO Chris Zweigenthal was surprised at news of the deal, saying South Africa has between 40 and 46 daily frequencies available to fly to Britain. Heathrow can land 44 planes per hour.

“However, up to now there have been only three daily landing slots available for Heathrow.”

SAA still operates two daily flights between Johannesburg and Heathrow.

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