Business Talk – In conversation with FlySafair CEO Elmar Conradie

Elmar Conradie is chief executive officer at FlySafair, a low-cost carrier in South Africa, part of Safair Operation.

He obtained a B.Compt Honours degree from University of the Free State, graduating top of the class. He is a qualified chartered accountant and certified information auditor.

Conradie joined Safair Operations more than 15 years ago, having initially taken up the position of financial director, in 2005. Under his leadership, the airline has seen strong growth domestically.

FlySafair started with just two aircraft in 2014, operating between Johannesburg (OR Tambo) and Cape Town. The airline has since grown to include a fleet of nine aircraft with regularly scheduled flights between 7 major airports in South Africa

On Monday, the airline reached a milestone after it announced that it will operate outside of the country for the first time – twice-weekly flights between South Africa and Mauritius.

In this episode of Business Talk with Michael Avery, Conradie underlines the challenges faced by the airline during the various lockdown periods in South Africa.

He notes that the airline managed to get to around half its usual traffic patterns by December, which was then offset by the re-introduction of level 3 lockdown, falling to around 10,000 passengers daily over this period.

This is from around 30,000 passengers in December, and down from usual traffic volumes exceeding 60,000 passengers in 2019.

Conradie says that scheduling remains difficult, while trying to balance profitability. He says that the current reduced schedule – due to a lack of demand, as people have no reason to fly – means that flights are operating at a loss.

The chief executive says that demand in airline traffic is not forecast to return to pre-pandemic levels for some time, reaching about 80% because of a change in passenger behaviour – mostly in the business space.

Conradie says that because of reduced demand for seats, passengers should expect discounts in the coming months, which, while good news for the public, makes it incredibly difficult for the industry to recover.

The full interview is embedded below. You can find all the Business Talk with Michael Avery interviews here.

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Business Talk – In conversation with FlySafair CEO Elmar Conradie