With South Africa’s domestic airline industry under increasing pressure, international airlines are taking advantage of a post-Covid boom in demand by launching several new flight paths that will come into effect before the end of the year.
South Africa’s remaining domestic airlines are likely to remain under pressure for the next four to five months, said FlySafair CEO Elmar Conradie – with limited flight capacity and rising input costs keeping ticket prices higher than before.
The domestic market has suffered a number of blows this year, with the closure of Comair wiping approximately 40% of the local flight capacity from the market, leaving reaming airlines scrambling to meet demand. This was exacerbated by the liquidation of SA Express last week, with another local airline, Mango, currently in limbo.
International flights have also struggled, with many countries still adopting a tight border policy. Conradie noted that with capacity issues and high costs being a deterrent, the domestic market has not yet returned to pre-Covid (2019) levels, currently at about 70%.
The international market is slightly weaker at 67% of pre-Covid levels, he said. But out of the ashes, some international carriers are finding opportunities in South Africa.
Air Belgium – Cape Town / Joburg to Brussels – September 2022
Flights aboard Air Belgium’s modern A330neo will depart Brussels every Wednesday and Sunday at 19h45 – arriving in Johannesburg at 7h15 the next day, with a continuation to Cape Town.
South Africans heading to Europe will be able to fly from Cape Town International (with a short stop in Johannesburg) or OR Tambo every Monday and Thursday.
The flight offers 30 seats in Business Class, 21 seats in Premium Class and 235 Economy Class seats.
Fares start at R11,569 for an all-in return ticket between Johannesburg and Brussels, and passengers are allowed a 30kg baggage allowance for free.
Qantas – Perth to Johannesburg – 1 November 2022
From 1 November, Qantas will operate the only direct service from Perth to South Africa, operating three return flights per week on its Airbus A330 aircraft.
The new flights will cut more than six hours from the fastest current travel time, with customers heading to Johannesburg from Perth currently having to fly on Qantas via Sydney, or via the Middle East.
United – Cape Town to Washington DC – 18 November 2022
United Airlines will fly a direct, non-stop service between Washington Dulles Airport and Cape Town International Airport.
The route positions United as the first carrier to provide a non-stop, roundtrip service from US capital, Washington DC, to Cape Town. Flights will operate three times a week, with the first take-off on 18 November 2022.
One-way flights are from R10,679, with a round trip priced from R14,789.
Air Mauritius – Cape Town to Mauritius (overnight) – 16 November 2022
Air Mauritius is set to resume non-stop flights from Cape Town to Mauritius from 16 November this year.
The airline said it will offer two weekly flights leaving at night (22h05) from Cape Town and arriving in the early morning in Mauritius (05h10).
Air Mauritius currently offers flights from Johannesburg’s OR Tambo with a one-way economy class ticket costing around R5,500. FlySafair earlier this year also extended its route capacity to include twice-weekly flights from OR Tambo to Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport.
Delta – Cape Town to Atlanta, USA – 17 December 2022
Delta airlines announced a new nonstop route from Hartsfield–Jackson International Airport to Cape Town International Airport.
The new route between Atlanta and Cape Town will be available by the beginning of 17 December, the airline said. It comes as part of the carrier’s expansion from the largest airline hub in the world, located in Atlanta, into Africa.