CONSUMERS can look forward to enjoying low-cost flights again when Skywise starts its operations between OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and Cape Town in the second half of the year.
Skywise aims to cut the costs of flying domestically by as much as 20%, says the airline’s finance director and former founding director of 1time, Glenn Orsmond.
On Monday, Skywise — headed by former 1time CEO Rodney James, Mr Orsmond, Michael Kaminski, Johan Borstlap and Wayne Duvenage — was granted an air service licence. The new airline now needs to complete the process of acquiring an air operator certificate from the Civil Aviation Authority.
The venture comes at a time of turmoil in the aviation industry as it wrestles with fierce competition and record fuel prices. The most recent victim to succumb to the market’s harsh conditions was 1time, started by the same group of people behind Skywise.
In the past 20 years, 11 airlines have failed in South Africa.
1time is trying to avoid liquidation and has courted the advances of UK-based pan-African, low-cost carrier Fastjet. 1time ceased operations in November.
Mr Orsmond dismissed claims by domestic carriers of an oversupply of capacity. In January, South African Airways subsidiary Mango objected to Fastjet’s application to take over 1time’s air service licence, saying it would introduce capacity that would threaten the sector’s profitability.
Mango cited the failure of Velvet Sky and 1time.
Mr Orsmond said there was “an oversupply of expensive seats. If you bring down prices you will find the demand. “1time has taken 2-million seats out of the market so there is a massive shortage of cheap seats.”
Mr James said Skywise planned to lease two Boeing 737-300s for its initial start of service and would start with three daily flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town. There were plans to add two more aircraft later to service the Durban and the Port Elizabeth-East London routes.
Mr Orsmond said 14-million passenger trips were undertaken a year locally. Skywise aimed for a 6% market share in two years.