A new airline FlySafair will soon start flying in SA. For the consumer, this should mean more affordable fares, as it is offering attractive prices at its launch. To find out more, ZA Confidential spoke to the CEO of FlySafair Dave Andrew.
ZAC: What impact do you think your arrival on the scene will have on the air travel market?
DA: While FlySafair is committed to offering the lowest fares possible to make air travel more accessible to a greater proportion of the South African population, we anticipate that our entry into the market will help in driving airfares down in general. Either way, the traveling public benefits.
ZAC: Why has it take you so long to get going?
DA: The unfortunate delay in launching our service last year gave us the opportunity to further evaluate the best possible way to structure our fares. In keeping with the best current international thinking on low cost airlines, the unbundled approach not only achieves this but also allows our customers more choice and hence our motivation to implement. We also needed to assess the market to ensure our brand was successfully launched.
ZAC: You are offering attractive fares of around R500 each way on the JHB to CT route, but at what cost? Is safety being compromised? Will passengers be crammed in like sardines? And what extra charges will there be for food, luggage and so on?
DA: While a great deal of our flights are offered at these low prices, it is important to note that not all our tickets are sold at those prices. Since establishing Safair almost 50 years ago, safety has always been our top priority. We would never comprise the safety or maintenance standards of our operations, passengers, crew or aircraft – no matter what the cost. Our low-fare prices will have no impact on any of our internal services, including the maintenance and safety of our aircraft. Aside from not compromising on safety, we are also committed to ensuring our travellers experience comfort at all times. We will be flying a Boeing 737-400 aircraft with165 comfortable seats. Aside from our competitive prices we are also offering passengers the option to purchase a bag at a cost of R150, an extra bag at R250, Sport equipment at R280 and a ticket alert SMS at R5, preselected seats R40 and also Extra Room seats R100, and catering will be sold on board.
ZAC: What numbers will you be carrying at the launch? And how do you hope to grow? Within ZA and beyond?
DA: Online booking thus far have been good and we are expecting these to continue until the launch and beyond. We are continuously investigating the possibilities regarding expanding our routes and fleet. To date we have had numerous requests already for flying to various other destinations – indicating that the room for growth is promising.
ZAC: How easy is it to book with you? Are you offering or planning to offer a package of services including accommodation and car hire?
DA: You can find us online at http://www.flysafair.co.za or phone our call centre at 087 135 1351. We can even take care of your vehicle rental needs as we have partnered with First Car Rental and together we are offering FlySafair passengers really competitive prices on both flights and car rental.
ZAC: One frustration for passengers is the time it can take from the plane landing to the baggage carousel if the plane is not docked alongside the terminal and people need to be bussed to and from the terminal. As a latecomer have you been given the worst slots?
DA: We have been allocated bays according to the Airports Company Policy and they have a schedule where they try and accommodate all airlines fairly.
ZAC: Are you mainly targeting the leisure traveller or business folk as well?
DA: With competitive prices we are hoping to target everyone who would like to fly.
ZAC: What have been the challenges in recruiting pilots, cabin staff and check-in people?
DA: We have been very fortunate that we have been able to employ skilled people that have previous airline experience.
ZAC: Do you expect more new entrants?
ZA: Yes, the industry will always be competitive, with a many companies out there wanting to start an airline.
ZAC: We have seen a number of airlines come and go. It is a challenging business here in ZA and internationally. How confident are you that you are here to stay?
DA: Yes, it is a challenging business indeed. We are confident that we can successfully manage the challenges that operating a scheduled airline in South Africa entails. Our commitment extends to providing exceptional service as we have been doing for the past 49 years.
Competition is always a good thing, and as long as this new airline offers good value and efficient flights, it has a good chance of grabbing a share of the market, or expanding it. The proof of this pudding will be in the flying……
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