Price war should not be focus - Skywise co-chair

Skywise Airlines’ co-chairs Javed Malik (left) and Tabassum Qadir. (Supplied)
Skywise Airlines’ co-chairs Javed Malik (left) and Tabassum Qadir. (Supplied)

Cape Town - SA's newest low cost airline Skywise has taken up the challenge in this competitive market and is confident that it will not only survive, but grow, co-chair Tabassum Qadir told Fin24 on Tuesday.

She is also the CEO of Skywise's parent company PAK Africa Aviation.

"Yes, the low cost airline industry in SA is competitive. After the end of 1time, however, there was capacity available in the market, so we made the business decision to introduce a new low cost carrier. Our passion for the industry underlies that business decision," she explained.

"We have taken up this challenge and are confident that we will make it, because if we cannot make it, no private investors will be interested in this SA industry anymore."

To her it is a pity that SA's low cost aviation industry is overshadowed by negativity.

"I have no complaints with the government authorities. We had support from all over, but on lower management level I think there is just too much negativity, which should be removed," she said.

"Aviation is a catalyst to grow the economy. You cannot take aviation lightly. It needs to have attention from government. If we fold no one else would come in from private sector."

Skywise started operations in March 2015 and has seen load factors from 60% up to 100%.

"There is a market and a need to also grow the market. Government should make it a priority to grow this market," she said.

"We want to run our own race. We are doing our best and growing our business. Our strong point is that we are innovative and very experienced at the same time. We have young entrepreneurs and those experienced in the aviation industry. That creates dynamism and the ability to make flexible decisions."

She gives the example of having been able to quickly put an extra flight in place when capacity demanded it over a recent long weekend.

Another new initiative from Skywise - and according to Qadir a first in the African aviation industry - is the new package for frequent flyers. For R7 999 (including taxes) a passenger gets a one month unlimited flying subscription on the Cape Town/Johannesburg route.

As for the price war raging in the SA low cost airline industry among the four competitors at the moment, Qadir said it is an unfortunate trend.

"I do not think the price war is the right thing if the intention is to make some of the airlines become extinct. If you have a bad intention then bad things also happen to you," she said.

"The attitude should rather be to focus on your consumers rather than on the completion. Grow more consumers rather than aiming to get the competition to exit. I am not threatened by them, but it is good for the economy of the country to have this industry be sustainable and grow."

As for aviation in Africa, she said there are opportunities not only in the airline business, but also in services surrounding aviation. She would like to see young people and women make use of the big opportunities the industry could offer.

Skywise's holding company PAK Africa Aviation has a strategy to do mergers and acquisitions and is taking a holistic perspective of the African aviation industry, Qadir explained.

The holding company is busy with various negotiations, including with two African governments and one private airline.

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