The entry of low-cost airline FlySafair into the domestic airline market was somehow seen as a threat by its direct competitors Kulula (under Comair) and Skywise Airline, leading to strong opposition to the launch.
Last year the two competing airlines brought an interdict against FlySafair, stating that the airline did not meet a requirement that locally operated airlines must have a 75% South African shareholding.
A shareholding restructuring exercise saw FlySafair give its South African employees a 25,14% stake in the airline.
Speaking to DESTINY, FlySafair CEO Dave Andrew says it’s been a tough year since the interdict, but added that they have been fortunate and have been able to keep the business afloat and retail all their staff.
The group’s domestic license was re-issued in March, but it opted to launch its services in the warmer months when there was a higher demand for flights.
“There have been no further objections to the awarding of the license by the council, so that’s been good. We have seen one or two of them say they might do something around our launch when it comes to pricing or additional capacity, but we’ll have to wait and see,” says Andrew.
He says they have been “pleasantly surprised” by ticket sales so far. But, with the likes of low cost airline 1Time collapsing in 2012, how solid is FlySafair’s business model?
“The model we follow is a traditional low-cost model. We have unbundled the service, which is new in South Africa,” he explains.
The airline gives passengers the choice to add or remove costs on their airline tickets by including or foregoing certain services. According to News24, there are extra costs incurred on flights, which the passenger may choose to forego on a FlySafair flight. These include extras such as catering, checking in luggage, and pre-booking seats – especially those with extra space such as those at emergency exits or in the front row.
A basic one-way ticket from Cape Town to Johannesburg will cost R499, while the Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and George route will cost travellers R399.
Andrew says FlySafair would like to hold the same market share that the now-defunct 1Time airline had, which was standing at 12%, according to media reports. So in the next year he would like to see their airline holding a six to eight percent market share. Kulula, with holding company Comair, owns 20% of the domestic airline market share.