Cape Town - Despite the fact that airline tickets are the second most popular online purchase (after books), a recent report indicated that 32.4% of consumers mistrust online payment systems.
Besides that, millions of South Africans do not have access to formal banking and many do not have credit cards. So how can these consumers pay for airline tickets?
Budget airlines are attempting to address this issue as a matter of sound business sense, with kulula, Mango and FlySafair rising to the challenge.
Kulula and Computicket
Shaun Pozyn, head of marketing for kulula.com and British Airways (operated by Comair), points out that low-cost carriers look at a variety of distribution channels to attract larger markets. This has resulted in a number of budget airlines partnering with retail outlets as well as third-party loyalty/reward programmes.
"In a nutshell, the more distribution channels a carrier can offer, the larger the potential pool of customers available," says Pozyn.
"By going this route, the carrier is then able to target a larger base of customers as well as often being able to accept payment in different forms which they themselves might not have been able to offer."
Partnering with a third-party loyalty programme brings the benefit of exposure to a larger base, and depending on the agreement could also allow customers to redeem their loyalty currency towards flights; this then becomes another form of payment.
Besides its traditional distribution channels such as airport ticket sales and the www.kulula.com website, kulula also offers flights to customers via Computicket outlets.
"This has been a very useful channel for customers who want to pay for their flights using cash. Furthermore, through our partnerships with Discovery Vitality, customers are able to use their Discovery miles to pay towards kulula flights. Kulula is also fully integrated with the eBucks system, enabling customers to purchase flights using their eBucks on the eBucks website," says Pozyn.
Kulula also has its own credit card which allows card holders to earn kulula moolah on qualifying credit card spend, which they can then redeem for flights.
Mango partners with Shoprite Checkers
According to Mango spokesperson Hein Kaiser, Mango was the first airline to retail flights through supermarket Shoprite Checkers. It aims to include market segments that have not had the opportunity to make use of air travel before.
Mango remains the only carrier globally to accept store charge cards as payment (this includes all Edcon cards such as Edgars, Jet, CNA and Boardmans).
Mango was also the first African airline to offer a mobi-site and apps allowing bookings, payment and flight management on the go for all devices with Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 operating system.
The app is available for download in all app stores for Android, Apple, Blackberry and Windows 8.1 devices.
FlySafair joins forces with Pick n Pay
FlySafair is aiming to bring low-cost air travel to a wider audience by partnering with Pick n Pay, in a move which will open up air travel opportunities for millions of South Africans.
Travellers can now book tickets online on www.flysafair.co.za and pay for them at their local Pick n Pay. Alternatively, tickets can be booked and paid for at the new Pick n Pay Money Counters rolling out this year in selected stores across the country.
“Our promise is simple: we want to offer affordable, easy and on-time air travel and this partnership is a great way for us to deliver on that promise for even more people,” says FlySafair CEO Elmar Conradie.
Richard van Rensburg, deputy CEO of Pick n Pay, says: “Through this partnership with FlySafair, customers who want a great deal can pay for their flights with cash or card at any Pick n Pay store. Customers also have the option of switching their smart shopper points and paying for flights in-store."
Says Conradie: “For FlySafair, this move is certainly in support of the shopping needs of existing online shoppers, but we also see this as a way to make our service available to those that don’t have credit card facilities.”