For a long time there’s been a somewhat cozy relationship between Airlink and the state-owned carriers, where they avoided taking each other on directly – this seems to be over.
SA Express announced that from 1 November 2013 they are launching flights from Cape Town to George, Johannesburg to Nelspruit/Kruger and Johannesburg to Pietermaritzburg.
These are all routes on which Airlink at the moment has a monopoly, and it’s sure to hurt.
SA Express lost the Johannesburg to Skukuza route, because their planes are not compatible with the airport, and so have shifted to flying the Johannesburg to Nelspruit route.
The rumour is that this was on direct instruction from the department of public enterprises and that it’s now open season for SA Express to take on Airlink on any routes it chooses.
Things are not boring in the South African aviation industry.
This week alone, there was the FlySafair launch and fastjet having to postpone their South African launch due to red tape thrown at them by the department of transport.
What a better way to end the week than with SA Express taking on Airlink on one of its big routes.
There are two new flights a day from Cape Town to George on Mondays to Fridays, two flights a day from Mondays to Fridays from Johannesburg to Nelspruit (and one on Sundays) and also two flights a day from Johannesburg to Pietermaritzburg from Mondays to Fridays.
* Rob Baker is co-owner of South Africa Travel Online. Follow him on twitter on @southafricaTO.