Taxi industry takes to the skies

2011-06-29 13:12

Johannesburg - The SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) is launching a low-cost airline, it said on Wednesday.

"I can see some of you rolling your eyes because of how our taxi drivers drive... I can assure you we won't allow our taxi drivers to drive [the planes]," Santaco business development officer Nkululeko Buthelezi told potential investors and reporters in Johannesburg.

The Santaco Express would be officially launched on September 16 and would take to the skies by November, he said.

Buthelezi said Santaco was looking at routes such as Lanseria to Bhisho, which made sense for its customers who often made a 14-hour road trip for a funeral only to return five hours later.

'City in a bush'

Santaco Express would initially operate one or two flights a day between Lanseria in Gauteng to Bhisho in the Eastern Cape, and then on to the Cape Town International Airport.

It would be operated by Air Aquarius, which works with SA Express and SA Airlink. Air Aquarius would supply 100-seater aircraft, crew and the necessary aviation licences.

Santaco president AJ Mthembu said the aviation model would work as commuters would be taken from the taxi rank to the airport, then transported to a taxi rank at their destination.

"Our potential is to make a bush into a city," he said, explaining that the airline would focus on regional airports.

"We specialise in awkward areas because that's where our business is."

One price for everything

Mthembu said the cost of the ticket - from taxi rank to rank - had yet to be finalised, but Santaco was looking at between R500 and R600.

"We will be building everything into one price in the affordable sector," he said.

The airline would undertake a dry run on September 16, when Santaco would fly members from Lanseria to Durban for its 10th anniversary celebration.

It would open ticket sales immediately after this, with the first commercial flights late in November just in time for the heavy December holiday traffic, Buthelezi said.

Air Aquarius would hand over skills to Santaco and in 18 to 24 months, the taxi association expected to take over the aviation operation, he said.

  • IQ - 2011-06-29 13:22

    'Airplane 4' - the sequel!

      Gorilla - 2011-06-29 13:43

      Brilliant - I can see it now. These planes will push in on the runways, get overloaded and be flown with a pair of pliers and the gaadtjie leaning out the window screaming "Joebuurg, Duurbin, Pee Eeee!!!"

      jowza - 2011-06-29 13:45


      ReThan - 2011-06-29 14:24

      HAHHAAHHAA Gorilla.

      Matt - 2011-06-29 14:29

      Where was Airplane 3?

      McDaNife - 2011-06-29 14:31

      by the way will they have the same air routes, disaster I can see.

      EDI2000 - 2011-06-29 14:41

      Can I pay in change?

      Matt - 2011-06-29 14:47

      @ EDI2000 - currently the custom is that if the fare is R9, you pay with a R50 note, all passengers do that and all expect to get change...

      Matt - 2011-06-29 15:00

      The taxi route from Johannesburg CBD to Edenvale Hospital, via areas known to be predominantly Jewish, is called the Jewish Taxi. At CBD you stand in row 1 and shout "Jewish"... so imagine uMama's horror to go to the airport, shout "Jewish!" and end up in Tel Aviv

      jowza - 2011-06-29 15:00

      wonder if they will allow us to smoke zol

      Matt - 2011-06-29 15:02

      @ Jowza - a couple of years ago there was a headline in The Daily Sun about a taxi crashing because a passenger was giving the taxi driver a BJ. Well, maybe Air-Taxi can consider this for the in-flight entertainment... but only in Business Class of course ;-)

      Carbon - 2011-06-29 15:03

      I will use this service...20 mins between CPT and Jhb...they will know all the short cuts

      Ross - 2011-06-29 15:07

      Matt - 2011-06-29 15:07

      Can they invite Julius Malema to declare the airline open, then make the first test flight? Just in case it doesn't go too well ;-)

      Matt - 2011-06-29 15:11

      @ Ross - good one!

      jowza - 2011-06-29 15:21

      lol matt.everyone will want to be upgraded to business class

      Matt - 2011-06-29 15:24

      How does it work with tickets - most airlines these days use e-Tickets... will this one just have iTickets

      Matt - 2011-06-29 15:31

      There will be in-flight drinks... for the pilot that is

      Matt - 2011-06-29 15:39

      If the runway is being occupied, will the plane just drive over the grass and get onto another one... (and yes taxis do this for real, I was in one doing that around Melrose)

      jowza - 2011-06-29 15:45

      when you hear the pilot listening to 'i wish i cud fly'.get off immidiately

      Shadoz - 2011-06-29 15:49

      lol@gorilla brilliant

      Matt - 2011-06-29 16:08

      Just imagine... the plane takes off from Lanseria to Bisho. Close to the Eastern Cape border a passenger cries "aftah robot"... pilot ignores him/her... passenger shouts louder "AFTAH ROBOT!!" and the pilot ignores him/her... and there's still 30min left till they land in Bisho... oh boy

      Ntfutfuko - 2011-06-29 16:13

      Air traffic controllers will be ignored, the air-taxi driver will want to get there first...

      Werner - 2011-06-29 17:53

      I thought this was quite possibly a joke. Who in their right minds - and with a will to live - is going to get on these planes? I'd like to be positive about this but every fiber of my being is resisting. I say let them go at it, let them try to figure this one out. It's a platform for them to showcase their inability.

      johncarlos.biza - 2011-06-29 22:47

      @Matt how mature to mock the way some of your countrymen pronounce. I seriously expected a bit better from you; you normally don't comment like the uncultured News24 commoners

      Werner - 2011-06-30 08:42

      I think this idea is just up in the air. I just can't see it taking off. As a business idea this one might just burn and crash. And when that happens, morale will plummet. Anyway.

      Jason - 2011-06-30 10:12

      I hope that they don't stop in front of another airplane (in mid-air) to drop off passengers.

      TerraFic - 2011-06-30 10:34

      Forget "Snakes on a plane"... coming soon... "Chickens on a plane" starring Mama Africa

      Matt - 2011-06-30 13:56

      @ johncarlos.biza - FYI there was a period of 18 months where I had no choice but to take taxis - so I am well qualified to make taxi jokes, thank you!

      Seperetla - 2011-07-01 09:38

      Imagine the Pilot leaving the plane on autopilot to ask the passengers in the passenger compartment "ubani u patele nge hundred rande?"

  • MandlaSithole - 2011-06-29 13:26

    funny as it may sound, It's always good to see improvement somewhere. I can just see it - "4:4 Mama, 4:4"!!

      Gary - 2011-06-29 13:42

      I actually see the good in this. If there's a market for it, why the heck not..........

      letswai - 2011-06-29 13:48

      good innitiative. i actually if this guys were so organised they would revolutionise the transport pucto ,reyavaya ,metro, stimela or anything would step on thier way. but this is one step in the right direction. guys keep it up.

      Matt - 2011-06-29 14:39

      Next up - Rea Vaya and Gautrain to launch their own planes... overpriced service that nobody ever uses... hang on, we already have SAA Domestic

      johncarlos.biza - 2011-06-29 22:49

      Congratulations to all involved and I wish them well. This is how you build an economy, not through wasting company resources perpetually bitching on news websites

      Matt - 2011-06-30 14:13

      From my side johncarlos.biza I was making jokes based on actual experience - hadn't even started on the time the taxi driver drove through an alleyway to cut through traffic... definitely no b1tching on my part. I respect the taxi passengers for the tough trips they have to endure. Mine took 6 taxis a day just to get to work and back. Thanks for the compliment way above too :-)

  • Protest - 2011-06-29 13:26

    I can assure you we won't allow our taxi drivers to drive [the planes] Imagine if they did...........

      Protest - 2011-06-29 13:34

      We just need Leon Shuster and a suitcase on one of the low budget "AirTaxis".

      Louis III - 2011-06-29 13:47

      A colleague claims he prefers flying to driving since "there are no taxis at 30 000 feet" Wonder what he'll say now!

      Protest - 2011-06-29 13:58

      How would you identify the AirTaxi as it flies overhead? It is the airplane with a hooter, honking every few seconds.

      J365 - 2011-06-29 14:12

      Haha, imaging a plane full of people jumping out of the windows if Schuster lets that snake out.

      Robert M - 2011-06-29 14:34

      @protest if they did you wud have to learn zulu quick

      Oxygen - 2011-06-29 15:23

      Pilot licenses for sale at your local municipality.

      Matt - 2011-06-29 15:32

      @ Oxygen - and R200 to "guarantee" you get it

      Werner - 2011-06-30 17:42

      Well, you don't really drive a plane fly it. THEY DO KNOW THAT, RIGHT?

  • trunkbutt - 2011-06-29 13:28

    How long until an overloaded plane crash?

      Larissa - 2011-06-29 14:33

      No, until they start shooting each other up in the air...

  • The Ted Vos - 2011-06-29 13:32

    April 1st already? Quite possibly the worst idea I've ever heard. The airline industry isn't a lawless, mafia type free for all like your cursed taxi industry. Pull up a chair and watch the show folks, we're about to witness the very definition of "epic fail".

      GT - 2011-06-29 13:47

      Oh it is!

      Matt - 2011-06-29 15:05

      It is... just have a look at fuel surcharges... not to mention extortionate airport taxes... airline mergers... alliances...

  • Mishka - 2011-06-29 13:35

    Have mercy! Have mercy! Please build an airport away from all residential and commercial areas, and only fly over barren land, for obvious reasons..............

      Robnob - 2011-06-29 14:27

      No, place their destinations right in the middle of their townships, then we see how confident they all are.

      Matt - 2011-06-29 14:33

      Maybe they can use converted Harrier Jets, then they can just hover up into the skies and thus fly from the rank direct... a Harrier only takes 2 people but hey this is the taxi association we're talking about

      Warren - 2011-06-29 14:43

      @ Steen: Well done, very mature & intelligent answer.

      Raymond - 2011-06-30 18:35

      We wish to advise passengers that a free book has been left in the pocket of your seats for easy reading and to pass time.Please note that this is a once off and we hope you enjoy reading 'The Worlds Greatest Air Disasters'-Author Unknown

  • Andrew - 2011-06-29 13:36

    Zola Bird!!

  • Dal68 - 2011-06-29 13:38

    This wil be a fun one to see

  • standuhar - 2011-06-29 13:40

    I imagine that their planes would roof racks for extra luggage. Where will they put the goats?

      jowza - 2011-06-29 13:44

      in your car

      standuhar - 2011-06-29 13:48

      At least your goat will arrive safely.

      Warren - 2011-06-29 14:45

      @ standuhar: In the Venter trailer hooked at the back!

      shaun.cousins1 - 2011-06-30 15:45

      Can you imagine the landing gears or wheels rolling falling off while taxing or taking off.....

  • Mlu - 2011-06-29 13:40

    Question: How would you know the pilot is not a taxi driver? Answer: When the damn thing crashes!

      Matt - 2011-06-29 14:41

      Having been stuck on the M1 2 days ago due to a taxi crash, I disagree

  • Arthur - 2011-06-29 13:45

    Let's hope the don't fly like they drive !

  • Daemos1 - 2011-06-29 13:49

    Sounds like a schuster movie

  • ShRoOm PoPsiCLe - 2011-06-29 13:52

    So are they going to mimic the current taxis and drop off passengers wherever they feel like with total disregard for the laws? I hope the passengers are issued parachutes..

      standuhar - 2011-06-29 14:21

      Just drop them without parachutes.

      Matt - 2011-06-29 14:41

      At least the taxi drivers can now do 900km/h legally :-)

      Robert M - 2011-06-29 14:45

      wait until they impound SAA planes because they are using their route(runways)

      Matt - 2011-06-29 14:50

      No, soon they'll be shooting at SAA, Kulula and 1Time planes for operating on their turf... taxi-plane wars!

      Dominic - 2011-07-01 12:22

      Fantastic idea. I know a lot of sky-divers who would love to travel like that.

  • Pickle - 2011-06-29 13:53

    This made me laugh so hard that I fell off my chair.

      Rich - 2011-06-29 16:57

      peeeeeeep...peeeeeeeeeep, that is the hooter. yuo watch out people the taxi driver is driving it to the ground

  • Gooofy - 2011-06-29 13:53

    First coffins on wheels .... now coffins with wings LOL

  • Flinger - 2011-06-29 13:55

    Which direction must one point ones finger?

      Flinger - 2011-06-29 14:29

      Mother jokes? Steen? Really? Did you just step out of a time machine from 1992? Shame man...i really hope you going to have enough left brain to manage creatively through the rest of your day now that its completely pap.

      Albo - 2011-06-29 15:57


      Matt - 2011-06-29 16:01

      Which finger

  • Robert M - 2011-06-29 13:56

    I can just Imagine Baba Mazibiko stopping the plane in the middle of nowhere and asking all passengers to get off because the airfare is R10 short

      Steen - 2011-06-29 14:12

      lol, funny

      Flee - 2011-06-30 11:39

      Or stopping in mid flight, Eish ze tyer ishe is Flaat???? Evereyone out so we can tchange e tyer... LMFAO

  • RiverStone - 2011-06-29 14:00

    I can see everybody is negative about the idea. Maybe they are right. But look from a business plan idea. These guys market is one that is not flying yet. It is a market that none of the others target. Strickly it is only a further development of their current model - taxi transport over a long distance. They have the infrastracture to get the people from a tax rank in a township to the airport and from the destination airport to a township again. What compition can do this? That sounds good. What is troubling me is. Firt, the management of the business. If they manage it like Aurora mines, not going to work. Second, how will the cost compare with a trip in the plane to a trip in the taxi. This customer base got a lot of time and not so much money. They will not be prepared to pay the premium to get there quicker. They might pay to get there safer, but not much.... If these guys can get these points right, it can work.

      Protest - 2011-06-29 14:19

      There are a heck of a lot of logistics to put in place before you can launch a new air service. The least of it it to get the passengers to an from the airports. The most problematic is the maintenance of the equipment itself. Releasing a press briefing where The SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) is launching a low-cost airline, indicates lack of homework. Most (if not all of them) of our domestic air services are already low cost. The bulk of the expenses involved in flying is the taxes and airport fees.

      Matt - 2011-06-29 14:52

      Just a thought - many taxi passengers are hardly loaded with money - so how do they afford to get from wherever to Lanseria and still take a plane? The whole point of a taxi is that it's affordable... so, a taxi with 15 passengers sharing the cost from GP to Bisho is still far cheaper...

      Snoopy88 - 2011-06-30 16:23

      Like with mining its a notoriously difficult industry to run profitably... Just look at SAA. I think they should stick to what they know and get that up to standard so that they can compete with the buses without resorting to intimidation. Customer Service anyone?

      amabok - 2011-06-30 18:49

      those taking taxis can't afford are they going to afford a plane ticket? Supply side fine...demand side f**ked b4 takeoff.

  • Vernon - 2011-06-29 14:06

    OH BOY!!!!!

  • Ntfutfuko - 2011-06-29 14:14

    Go away! it will be fun up there in the high altitudes, imagine seeing a J41 suddenly cutting infront of a boeing....

  • MetEishYa - 2011-06-29 14:23

    Next will be Ocean liners - then we are totally screwed

  • Robbie - 2011-06-29 14:30

    No sitcom writer could ever come up with this! LOL

  • bebe - 2011-06-29 14:30

    why cant all the taxi drivers fly the planes , at least it would get them off our roads.

      Flee - 2011-06-30 11:41

      Sssssoooo true, Imagine one morning driving to work and NOT seriously crappin yourself cause of a taxi... Sheer Bliss

  • McDaNife - 2011-06-29 14:30

    I like the humour

  • amdisgusted - 2011-06-29 14:34

    No wonder they fund this as they do not pay tax at all!!!!! Wonder if they will be paying tax for this airline!

  • Matt - 2011-06-29 14:37

    Will the plane's door "not entirely close properly"

  • Matt - 2011-06-29 14:37

    Will some of the windows be boarded up with sellotape

  • Matt - 2011-06-29 14:37

    Will the customary big mama still be allowed to sit in the back and squash everybody or will this be a problem with take-off

  • Matt - 2011-06-29 14:38

    Turbulence must be bad in a taxi-plane - the slightest bit of shaking and passengers will bump their heads on the 6x9 speakers above them

  • Jannie Stander - 2011-06-29 14:39

    Amazing, even Santaco thinks it's a joke how their drivers have disregard for the law and keeps on killing people...

  • Matt - 2011-06-29 14:43

    Now the police will need to fly planes as well, so they can roadblock the taxi-planes and get their bribes

  • cat8fish - 2011-06-29 14:43

    i will not be getting on that airplane. that's my story and I'm sticking to it

      jowza - 2011-06-29 15:42

      fish not alloewd on planes anyway

      Matt - 2011-06-29 15:56

      They have special areas for animals on planes... oh, not to forget the cat-bags so you can take a cat on board without putting it in cargo...

  • Matt - 2011-06-29 14:46

    How do you buy tickets for Air-Taxi? Do you just go stand in a long queue at the airport and get shovelled in, or do you stand outside and make a hand gesture?

  • Windlass - 2011-06-29 14:47

    I think it’s awesome to see people take some initiative and come up with some new ideas... Good Luck

  • Matt - 2011-06-29 14:48

    Will the Air-Taxi pilot still be able to wind down his window to exchange money with a pilot in another plane?

  • MetEishYa - 2011-06-29 14:50

    I'm sure the thinking is to use Baragwanath or the Golden Highway as the local airstrip. And what next - ocean liners?

      Matt - 2011-06-29 15:23

      Maybe the runway is the M1's hard shoulder, but only when there are no cops driving on it

  • mamakalami - 2011-06-29 14:53

    I don't see what the big fuss is all about - they're not gonna last. Taxis stop in 'no stopping zones' - park in 'no parking zones' - so they are definately going to flying in 'no fly zones'???

      Matt - 2011-06-29 14:57

      Lol!!! So next on the route, from the rank to Libya ;-)

      jowza - 2011-06-29 15:05

      will nato monitor the airspace

      Kwagga88 - 2011-06-30 15:30

      I can see blue and white "police" fighter jets maybe an Impala for the rookies and a Grippen or Eurofighter for the "GTI's" Then of course F22 for the stealth "BMW's" instead of service pistol a few ASRAAM's...

  • MustBeCrazy - 2011-06-29 14:59


  • SuperCal - 2011-06-29 14:59

    You have gotto be kidding me. They cannot for one second think that this could work?

  • Ross - 2011-06-29 15:04

      Mannie777 - 2011-06-29 15:33

      A picture says a thousand words!!

  • ProMalema100 - 2011-06-29 15:05

    lol.... this is a good idea only if they had the right people incharge, flippen hell, these taxis don't only cause chaos for whites, every law abiding road user feels the heat everytime these guys are on the road, I for one hate taxi drivers with a passion, only if you had reliable people engaging onto such a great venture, Patrice Motsepe, Cyril Ramaphosa and other serious business people people with integrity, not these clowns, the taxi industry is a flippen joke on the ground amagine the risk they will be taking into our skies, thank God I do not live anywhere near Lanseria, feel sorry for all those living in that area, seriously though, they failed to maintain and stabilize a simple road transport operation, imagine what they will be doing once they take over from Air Aquarius, so the actual worry starts in 18 to 24 months once they fully operate on their own. Wonder if JZ and Gen. Cele don't have shares in this operation? just a thought!

  • Charles N - 2011-06-29 15:06

    Some questions: 1. How many passengers per seat? 2. Will they fly according to a schedule, or wait until the plane is full enough? 3. Are they still allowed to make their own routes and push in where ever possible? 4. Will they still try put the excess luggage on the roof? ;-)

      Matt - 2011-06-29 15:22

      Maybe the passengers will flock to the airport and a chap with a bit of scrap paper will stand there, shepherding in the passengers until the plane is full

  • standuhar - 2011-06-29 15:07

    I can't wait to see the "Air taxi" protest. Will they block the runways with their "Air taxis"?

      Matt - 2011-06-29 16:20

      Just wait for the passengers to run amok because the fares went up R1 each way

  • Kishore Doodnath - 2011-06-29 15:07

    Where does the pilot pull over if he wants to pee.

      jowza - 2011-06-29 15:24

      raindrops keep falling on my head

      Matt - 2011-06-29 15:34

      @ Jowza - hahahaha

  • Matt - 2011-06-29 15:08

    Will the planes have tomato boxes for brakes too?

  • Grazy - 2011-06-29 15:14

    The taxi menace go 3D.....Eish, have to put in a sunroof.

      Matt - 2011-06-29 15:21

      Don't forget the decals, Kaizer Chiefs sticker on the rear, tinted windows and steel wheels with white edges on the tyres

  • Matt - 2011-06-29 15:14

    On the Germiston-JHB taxi, often passengers would say "sicele End" to get out at End Street. So in the planes, will they all be shouting "sicele Land"

  • Oxygen - 2011-06-29 15:18

    Oh lovely..............look forward to midair crashes.

  • splasher - 2011-06-29 15:21

    Will they have seats??

      Matt - 2011-06-29 15:35

      Not to forget there'll be 2 more passengers sitting next to the pilot

  • Stanley Black - 2011-06-29 15:29

    As a South African this is an issue that I feel is not given the attention it should. It need everyday South Africans to formulate opinions on it and for those opinions to be debated and commented on as a society. is somewhere you can do all that, go check it our submitting and commenting is easy and requires no registration.

      Matt - 2011-06-29 15:34

      hamba wena...

      Matt - 2011-06-29 15:57