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The New Face of SA Domestic Airlines

Airlink has now formally cut all ties with the defunct SAA, firstly they changed their flight code to 4Z from the well known SA used by SAA, then came the name change and finally last week they unveiled the newly painted Embraer 190 sporting Airlink’s new livery. This revelation effectively freed them of any brand association with its former franchise partner, South African Airways. The new-look features a distinctively colourful African Sunbird set against a sunrise and dawn sky.

“We have flown that particular nest and we are inviting our loyal and new customers to fly with us as Airlink expands its network, connecting and re-connecting people, communities, businesses, goods and services with markets throughout Southern Africa and beyond,” said Airlink CEO and Managing Director, Rodger Foster.

The new livery will be applied to Airlink’s fleet over the coming months, with the re-painting coinciding with each aircraft’s next scheduled deep maintenance overhaul. This will avoid disrupting the airline’s operations. The first aircraft bearing the new colours will resume service in early December, in time for the summer holiday season.

FlySafair, who before the Covid-19 pandemic were operating roughly 24% of the domestic seat capacity in South Africa are now are servicing almost 76% of the local market. As from the beginning of November, FlySafair has been running at full capacity in an attempt to supply the demand of the travelling public.

“We started up again on 15 June this year and have pretty much been carrying the mantle since then. While this is great for us, the problem is that we’re hitting a cap now where demand for flights is going to outstrip supply resulting in higher prices, unless some of our competitors can return to action. It’s been a privilege to fly during this time and we’ve been able to continually add additional seats as demand for flights has increased, but that ability is now coming to an end because we’re operating at full tilt. We need our competition to return”. said Kirby Gordon Chief Marketing Officer at FlySafair.

Comair has launched the first phase of their plan to return to the SA Skies with the opening of ticket sales on the 1st November, The next phase will be to return flights to service in early December. British Airways domestic and regional flights are expected to re-open soon as well as kulula flights from operated from Lanseria.

“We are excited to be returning to the skies and with competition being restored in the domestic market, the flying public can once again expect to achieve low airfares. We are proud to continue our kulula heritage of offering affordable airfares after introducing low cost flying in South Africa close to twenty years ago,” says Glenn Orsmond, representing the Comair Rescue Consortium.

LIFT, the new kid on the block, is a new kind of airline with a different and more flexible operating model which uses technology to offer a world-class customer experience. The airline is operated by Global Aviation Operations (Pty) LTD and will utilise three Airbus A320 aircraft. It is a collaboration between Global Aviation‚ Kulula founder Gidon Novick‚ and ex-Uber executive Jonathan Ayache who have recruited a top team of industry talent. Global Aviation has 20 years of experience operating large jet aircraft and is a fully licensed operator with a comprehensive maintenance operation.

Challenges experienced in the aviation industry caused by Covid have presented an opportunity to re-think the way airlines are structured and to gain access to infrastructure and talented‚ specialised people. The industry is undergoing a fundamental change and new business models are emerging in the industry where stronger customer orientation and more competition are evolving. The airline has developed a uniquely flexible model where flights and routes can be quickly added based on demand.

“It’s been a tough year for so many and the airline industry is in a mess, we want our new airline to be a collaboration with all South Africans and a statement of opportunity, optimism and freedom to revisit places known, explore places new, find business and reconnect with family.” said founder Gidon Novick.

CemAir has resumed services to popular tourist destinations and important business towns such as George, Kimberly, Hoedspruit Margate and Plettenberg Bay from Johannesburg, Durban, Bloemfontein and Cape Town. The Airline has not only had to contend with the Covid pandemic but last year they were grounded by the CAA. A decision that was overturned in by the Civil Aviation Appeal Committee in April 2019, calling the CAA's actions "irrational, arbitrary, unreasonable and procedurally unfair." and "factually wrong.

SAA all but off the scene, no one realistically expects SAA02 to emerge as the government try to convince people it will, and Mango being pulled down into the same pit as SAA the above airlines will, the foreseeable future, be the only options for the SA traveller.



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