How much it costs to fly South Africa’s most popular routes right now

 ·31 Aug 2022

While airlines in South Africa remain hamstrung by the economic fallout of the Covid pandemic, data from Stats SA points to a recovery in the number of people flying again in the country.

Stats SA’s tourism and migration data for June 2022 shows an uptick in both foreign and local travellers in and out of the country. While travel numbers are still trending well below levels seen prior to the pandemic, figures are trending in the right direction.

Low-cost airlines FlySafair and Airlink have this week announced new flight routes in the country, with the former starting a new Joburg-Bloemfontein route in mid-September and the latter launching its new Cape Town-Maputo route from today (31 August).

New flight routes for passengers in South Africa

Flight prices have increased dramatically in South Africa in recent months as the availability of seating declined following the liquidation of Kulula operator Comair in June.

The liquidation significantly impacted flight availability and cost, leaving alternative airlines to compensate for the lost capacity.

Prior to its liquidation, Comair accounted for 40% of domestic airline capacity. Kirby Gordon, chief marketing officer at FlySafair, said the airline market lost approximately 9,000 seats a week.

Gordon told the Sunday Times in August that compensating for the losses, along with costlier jet fuel prices, could force local airlines to hike prices.

He said that prices are currently artificially propped up by tightness in the availability of seats, but the price of jet fuel negates this.

Jet fuel has increased by around 220% over the last year and makes up about 50% of total operating costs – up from 30% previously. This is a huge deterrent for airlines to expand flights and operations, especially because they have to fly further between economic hubs in South Africa.

Other airlines have said that the impact of Comair’s closure is overstated, noting that while the airline may have had 40% of the market capacity, it was not running at 100% with full planes each and every trip.

With Comair’s closure, the market can now stabilise and fill more seats.

Airlines have said that high-demand tickets for immediate travel often draw higher prices, in the R2,000 to R3,000 range. However, low-demand routes booked well in advance are often cheaper – below R1,000.

BusinessTech looked at how much it costs to fly one way between some of South Africa’s major metros across three different airlines, namely: FlySafair, Airlink and South African Airways (SAA).

Note: All one-way flight costs were for Friday the 30th of September 2022 – roughly a month away from the date of writing (31 August). The 16h00 flight was considered first, if this was sold out then the closest available flight time was used.

From Johannesburg

FlySafair Airlink SAA
Johannesburg – Cape Town R2 630 R3 626 R4 377
Johannesburg – Durban R1 730 R1 843 R2 077
Johannesburg – Gqeberha R2 134 R3 021 Not an option
From Cape Town
FlySafair Airlink SAA
Cape Town – Johannesburg R2 482 R2 361 R2 802
Cape Town – Durban R2 732 R5 469 R4 880
Cape Town – Gqeberha R1 431 R1 998 Not an option

From Durban

FlySafair Airlink SAA
Durban – Johannesburg R1 431 R5 992 R1 422
Durban – Cape Town R2 234 R6 131 R5 834
Durban – Gqeberha R1 931 R4 132 Not an option

From Gqeberha

Note: SAA does not offer any flights to Gqeberha.

FlySafair Airlink
Gqeberha – Johannesburg R2 134 R1 859
Gqeberha – Cape Town R1 233 R1 998
Gqeberha – Durban R1 831 R2 154

Lift Airlines only offers trips between Johannesburg and Cape Town; they were priced as the following:

  • Cape Town – Johannesburg: From R2,961
  • Johannesburg – Cape Town: From R3,215

Read: Warning over airline ticket prices in South Africa: report

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter