Former SAA CEO to launch new airline

Cape Town – Joining a string of startup airline hopefuls, yet another aviation company has applied for an Air Services Licence, hoping to offer a wider variety of regional options to the South African market. 

Headed up by ex-SAA and SA Express CEO, Siza Mzimela as well as Theunis Potgieter and Jerome Simelane, both also ex-SAA executives, the airline will be a subsidiary of Blue Crane Aviation, a consultancy for aviation issues, and go by the working name of Fly Blue Crane.

Spokesperson for Blue Crane Aviation, Rich Mkhondo, confirmed that an application for an Air Services Licence has been handed in with the Ministry of Transport, but that the concept is still a work in progress.

“We are preparing the ground for a regional airline, looking specifically at unders-erviced routes,” he said.  

Fly Blue Crane will join Flysafair, fastjet and Skywise as a startup airline hopeful in the South African market.  

Skywise, the brainchild of 1time’s founders, was dealt a heavy blow after the Department of Transport (DoT) cancelled their Air Service License earlier this year.    
The DoT said that the license was only valid for a year, stating that the airline had made no progress since launching in March last year and that it had now expired.  

Both Flysafair and fastjet also faced some strong opposition from local airlines, due to foreign ownership issues. Comair and Skywise joined forces to launch a High Court application against FlySafair's licence. The two operators claimed that Flysafair did not fulfill the 75% local ownership requirement.

Operating from Tanzania, with its head offices located in the UK, and their eye on the rest of Africa, fastjet was probably the most aggressive in its approach to acquiring 1time’s routes, after the airline’s liquidation in 2012. South Africa’s largest airlines, however, formally objected to the threat posed by fastjet’s attempts to enter the local market early in 2013.

Mkhondo says that Fly Blue Crane does not foresee any strong opposition from local airlines as they make their foray into the airline market. 
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